Greed (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Winterbottom|
|Written by||Michael Winterbottom|
|Music by||Harry Escott|
|Box office||$1.4 million|
Greed is a 2019 satirical film written and directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film stars Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Asa Butterfield, Dinita Gohil, Sophie Cookson, Jonny Sweet, Asim Chaudhry, Shirley Henderson and Isla Fisher. The film centres around Sir Richard McCreadie, played by Coogan, a billionaire high-street fashion mogul loosely based on Arcadia Group chairman Philip Green, and events surrounding the build-up to his 60th birthday celebrations on the Greek island of Mykonos.
The film takes a non-linear approach to the life of Sir Richard "Greedy" McCreadie, a billionaire fashion mogul, with frequent flashbacks to his rise from relatively humble circumstances as an outcast and rebellious student at an unnamed British public school, to his rise in the 1970s and 1980s as a powerful high-street fashion merchant, to his testimony at a recent government hearing on financial and ethical abuses within the fashion industry. It becomes clear that, despite McCreadie's self-image as a hard-nosed and savvy businessman with multiple celebrity friends, much of his wealth is in fact based on ruthless exploitation, including a reliance on sweatshops in South-East Asia for his fashion lines, tax avoidance, asset stripping and similar questionably ethical financial dealings.
Much of the film focuses on the build-up to McCreadie's 60th birthday party, a Gladiator-themed celebration on the island of Mykonos which McCreadie hopes will settle his nerves after his disastrous and publicly-damaging performance at the government hearing. To further help restore his reputation, he has hired Nick, a socially-awkward journalist, to ghostwrite a flattering memoir for him. However, even there matters are not progressing smoothly; the centrepiece of the celebrations, a Roman arena where a mock-gladiatorial fight against a lion will be staged, is poorly-constructed due to lax local builders who rely mainly on undocumented immigrant labour, and the lion itself is quite passive, much to McCreadie's annoyance. Furthermore, many of McCreadie's celebrity guests are distancing themselves from him due to the damage to his reputation, and a crowd of Syrian refugees have constructed a makeshift camp on the public beach adjoining his property and refuse to leave. Tensions also exist among his family, including his ex-wife Samantha, who acts as the public CEO of his family and for whom he continues to have lingering attraction despite having subsequently married a much younger trophy wife; his daughter Lily, who is starring in a reality TV show being filmed alongside the celebrations with her boyfriend Fabian; and his neglected son Finn, who holds an Oedipal obsession with replacing his father.
As he writes the memoir, Nick struggles with his job of whitewashing McCreadie's public image in light of both his unethical business practices and, on a personal level, his uncouth and bullying personality. He begins to form a friendship with Amanda, one of McCreadie's personal assistants, who is also struggling with the ethical dilemmas of working for McCreadie. After breaking down when McCreadie reveals that he wants his employees to wear Roman slave outfits to his party, Amanda reveals to Nick that her mother was an employee in one of McCreadie's sweatshops in South-East Asia, but was fired by the manager when she was no longer physically able to work to McCreadie's requirements. She was subsequently killed after being forced to work in another sweatshop which eventually caught fire due to a lack of safety precautions.
On the night of the party, McCreadie cons the Syrian refugees into working for him with a three card monte trick after his local employees down tools. During the lavish celebrations, some of the refugee children steal silverware and are confronted by McCreadie's employees, but Amanda manages to persuade their father to return the stolen items. Simultaneously, Finn steals some cocaine from McCreadie's trophy wife Naomi and doses the lion's food with it. After his advances are rejected by Samantha, McCreadie drunkenly wanders into the arena and encounters the lion in its cage. Amanda, crossing paths with him, on impulse releases the lion, which mauls McCreadie to death in a drugged frenzy. Nick witnesses these events in horror, but helps Amanda escape without being discovered.
Following McCreadie's death, he becomes subject to numerous flattering eulogies, and Nick's project becomes a hagiographic biography. Finn takes over his father's role in the business, and it is implied that he will be just as ruthless if not worse. Nick and Amanda meet, and agree to keep Amanda's role in McCreadie's death secret; Amanda tells Nick that she views her action as justified and not so different from the indirect role McCreadie played in her mother's death. Amanda goes to work at her new job -- sewing at a Leicester sweatshop. The film ends with facts about exploitation and inequality within the fashion industry being shown over the credits.
- Steve Coogan as Sir Richard McCreadie
- Jamie Blackley as young Richard McCreadie
- David Mitchell as Nick
- Isla Fisher as Samantha McCreadie
- Sophie Cookson as Lily McCreadie
- Shirley Henderson as Margaret McCreadie
- Ollie Locke as Fabian
- Asa Butterfield as Finn McCreadie
- Sarah Solemani as Melanie
- Shanina Shaik as Naomi
- Dinita Gohil as Amanda
- Manolis Emmanouel as Demetrious
- Asim Chaudhry as Frank the Lion Tamer
- Pearl Mackie as Cathy
- Tim Key as Sam
- Jonny Sweet as Jules
- Stephen Fry as Himself
- Caroline Flack as Herself
- Pixie Lott as Herself
- Ben Stiller as Himself
- Colin Firth as Himself
- Keira Knightley as Herself
- Chris Martin as Himself
- Louis Walsh as Himself
- James Blunt as Himself
- Keith Richards as Himself
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 48% based on 132 reviews, with an average rating of 5.51/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Greed rarely hits quite as hard as it ought to, but solid laughs and a smartly assembled cast keep this one-percent satire entertaining." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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