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GREED … a film about our times

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greed

At first glance, seeing GREED, a film with the fabulous British comedian Steve Coogan wouldn’t seem like the perfect way to honor International Women’s Day. This story about a super successful garment billionaire, Sir Richard McCreadie, arranging for his 60th birthday bash in Mykonos, doesn’t scream feminism. But as the backstory as related through the official biographer Nick, (David Mitchell) seeps through, we see a pattern of bullying and verbal abuse that might make even Harvey Weinstein shudder.

Mr. Coogan, borrowing chicklets from Mr. Ed, is unhappy with everyone who’s been hired to make his Gladiator themed fantasy real. From the Bulgarian carpenters to the Greek chef, no one can do it fast enough and right according to his garish standards. On top of the pressure of getting rock stars to attend, and retired lions to roar, he must contend with a group of Syrian refugees encamped on the beach, potentially ruining the vista for him and his soon to arrive guests.

Nick reviews Richard’s life from boarding school truant to early London High Street rogue. Richard employed magic as a kid to steal money from fellow students and uses a different kind of manipulation to pay the least amount for the most. Once he discovers the cheap Asian labor market, exploitation of the system is simply part of doing business. He would pay the lowest price for garments …the factory managers then had to adjust to break even, and the workers, the real ones to suffer, got babkas. In this case, all the seamstresses are women. They start out poor and get even poorer as McCreadie and his lot buy and sell fashion shops, hiding their wealth in Monaco, as they sit on their shiny yachts.

Ex-wife (a very good Isla Fisher), a young girlfriend (Shanina Shaik), and a looking a little too young to be his mum, Shirley Henderson, fill out some of the pre party planning. Originally Ms. Fisher’s husband, Sasha Baron Cohen, was to play McCreadie. As it is ‘loosely’ based on Topshop’s Sir Philip Green, perhaps it was a smart move to make it less potentially anti-semitic with Steve Coogan.

One character, Amanda, (Dinita Gohil), a Sri Lankan living in the UK, seems most uncomfortable with her assistant job and all the doings. Her attempts at smoothing over the injustices Richard throws at the Syrians seem a little fuzzy, and not in keeping with the anger she must be harboring for the way her boss conducted business in her home country. I understood her anguish; I just didn’t feel it, so it is a bit surprising when the story gives her a revolutionary moment. Still, it is needed to balance out the roars.

The party ultimately flops, but the family fashion business go on making fortunes. Why would anyone get off the gravy train even without the rakish conductor?

The real politics came at the film’s end where statistics are scrolled on the screen showing the great disparity between the world’s working poor and the 24 percent who own it all. In fashion, it is mostly women who are trying to raise children with hope while working as basically slave labor for the industry. Women have made great strides, but the US still can’t vote for one for President and women continue to get less money than men for equal work.

Greed is a real peek into the lives of the rich and sometimes desperate, but not nearly as desperate as the people who work for them. The rich can leave their yachts behind and  buy a canoe. But the poor cannot and the refugees are still swimming, sometimes drowning, until someone says “enough”.

Director Michael Winterbottom has worked with Mr. Coogan before in seven other projects including the wonderful The Trip, A Cock and Bull Story and 24  Hour Party People. Hopefully there will be an eighth.

Some of the dialogue moved so quickly that I must see the film again to get all the jokes. Clever move guys.

Written by nancykoan

March 6, 2020 at 2:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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