I think I may have missed something. Greed tells the rags to riches story of British self made billionaire Richard McCreadie, the head of a retail empire that has profited using some very dubious business practices. However, upon arriving at the screening, Mrs Reviewer informed me that the film seems to be loosely based on the true life businessman Sir Philip Green.
Now, I have to admit I don’t know who that is, and I wonder if that will make any difference to the film I am about to review.
Steve Coogan plays McCreadie with an incredible relish, and the part plays to all his strengths, amplifying Partridge to 11 and allowing him to let rip with a barrage of insults and quotes from Gladiator. The story jumps around from his early days fleecing his school mates, to his early business ventures, to the hearing about his business practices and his 60th party on a Greek island, that is to be the final act in his own tragedy.
As well as Coogan, there is a who’s who of British talent, and you can play spot the cameos as you go. David Mitchel plays the writer hired to write the book of his life, with the appropriate spin, and the film is dedicated to the memory of Caroline Flack, who appears in the films opening scene.
The first two acts of the movie play out as you probably expect, and despite the absolute monstrous McCreadie being the most obnoxious businessman you could ever meet, there is a certain element of the script that has you smiling at his malicious and horrifying put downs. It is probably something to do with Coogan’s delivery, and the audience I watched it with certainly laughed at his incredibly offensive dialogue.
The problems start to arrive as we head towards a sign posted conclusion. and with the players all in position, the film starts to spin out of control. The change in tone as we approach the films conclusion is jarring and feels out of place with the rest of the screenplay. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but if you see the film you might also see a strange shift in the final act.
The unsatisfying ending is then coupled with facts about the clothing business and the nature of Capitalism.
For me this was also a little heavy handed, as I feel that after paying hard earned cash to watch this film, I should be trusted as a viewer to be able to take away the lessons learned from the screenplay. The on screen factoids seemed preachy and patronising and coupled with the third act actually left me thinking less of the production than I would have, had they not included it.
Director Michael Winterbottom is very talented with a great eye for subtlety when it comes to mixing truth and drama, but he should have perhaps held back a little and trusted his audience more. Oh and it seems that Sir Philip Green has stated that he won’t watch the film, probably for the best.