by N. Renee Brown
Basically: A morally corrupt rich white guy hosts his own 60th birthday party…with all the attendant issues.
In Greed, we meet Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) a self-made man who is not really self-made so much as bankruptcy happy. As he hosts his own 60th birthday party we learn about his history, the complicated relationships around him, and generally learn to hate almost everyone in his family. And also, we learn to feel sad for a lion.
The acting is good overall. Steve Coogan as Sir Richard McCreadie is wonderfully awful. He is cringeworthy, shallow, and reprehensible. He will do anything to get what he wants and it is never his fault if what he wants doesn’t work out perfectly.
Coogan is surrounded by really stellar actors. Isla Fisher is stunning as his ex-wife (who is still more wife than ex). And Shirley Henderson (yes, Moaning Myrtle) is perfect as Sir Richard’s Irish mother. Really, there wasn’t a single dud in the cast.
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
So what was wrong? Why the low score?
The script was in real need of an editor. Director Michael Winterbottom just happened to be the writer as well, which is typically a recipe for disaster—and in this case it was. Greed flipped back and forth between Richard’s rise to the top and the preparations for the party—the flashbacks were good but, in comparison, the party prep was a slog. The story also suffers from a one-note type of bad guy: Richard is always a dick. Always. In every situation. There is no redemption there. And the one really stunning scene at the end is so over-the-top great that everything else in comparison is painful. I feel like that scene is what sold this movie. I just wish the rest of it had been anywhere near comparable.
Honestly, I think Greed had an identity crisis; it is half drama, half documentary. Sadly, it doesn’t pull off either genre well enough to be worth watching.
In the End: Greed would have made a much better documentary about the plight of the fashion factory worker than a satire that doesn’t really get to where it needs to be.