To celebrate his 60th birthday and attempt to restore his rocky reputation, self-proclaimed self-made billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie throws a huge over the top ancient Rome party on a Greek island. While socially awkward biographer Nick, along for the ride, collects video messages for the party, he gets a closer look at the man himself through the eyes of people who have crossed paths with McCreadie, painting a very unfavourable picture.
As with any Michael Winterbottom film there is usually another agenda to the film and Greed is no different. Although throwing shades of the darkest of dark humour, the film can quickly morph into a straightforward comedic joke at people who have too much money and don’t deserve it and hit the satirical heights the next, but the film has another side and its an ethical one.
Through flashbacks played out simultaneously alongside the days leading up to and the actual party, McCreadie is a stand-in for the real-life Sir Philip Green who he himself was called, ‘king of the high street’ and the film makes no effort to hide the comparisons. We see McCreadie start businesses and run them into the ground, exploit workers in Sri Lanka, betray and ridicule people he considered beneath him, openly steal money by paying his wife billions of pounds from a company, Mondo (stand-in for Topshop) and see him in court trying to wriggle out of any punishment for his deeds.
The comedic elements to the film are the highlights, especially when Steve Coogan gets to flex his bastard character muscles, ranting at a poor interior designer about the colour of a shop. However, there is a slight imbalance as the story edges towards its climax, making the film feel like a rollercoaster of emotion. Nothing quite prepares you for what happens but, in some ways, it’s actually very satisfying. Winterbottom knows how to make a film feel a look like it’s out of Hollywood when in fact the film boasts great British talent (plus Isla Fisher who is also on top form here as McCreadie’s ex-wife). Greed is good but the deadly sin is never good and this film just hammers home that no matter how far you climb, you should prepare for the fall too.
Dir: Michael Winterbottom
Prd: Melissa Parmenter, Damian Jones
Scr: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Isla Fisher, Ollie Locke, Sophie Cookson, Shirley Henderson, Pearl Mackie, Asa Butterfield
DoP: Giles Nuttgens
Running time: 104 minutes
Greed is out in cinemas 21st February 2020