Fri. Mar 22nd, 2024

Greed or Green: It was too hopeful of Greed to expect laughs at the expense of underpaid workers and refugees

By Catherine F Poole Feb 21, 2020
Steve Coogan as Richard McCreadie in Winterbottom's new film, Greed. Photo: SonyPictures

2/5 Stars

Greed had so much potential; a promising storyline, a fantastic cast and many celebrity cameos. But much like the fast-fashion the film is based on, it fell apart almost straight away.

Michael Winterbottom’s latest direction stars Steve Coogan as Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, a self-made billionaire whose retail empire begins to plummet when a public inquiry into the exploitation of worker’s rights damages his reputation.

To save face, McCreadie throws an extravagant roman-themed 60th birthday party on the Greek Island.

Greed is basically an imitation of the fast fashion business mogul Philip Green, the chairman of Topshop, the now-defunct BHS and other high street names, which makes you wonder why it wasn’t titled Green from the get-go.

The similarities between Green and McCreadie are aplenty, masked only by a few tiny fictional details to tread legal ground.

Both created a high street empire exploiting workers from South Asian countries.

Both threw a toga-themed party, though Green hosted his in Cyprus for his 50th birthday. And both paid themselves and their wives massive dividends from their businesses.

Surely, Greed has enough grounds for Green to sue if he so desired… A risky move in the name of satire by Winterbottom.

The film begins with what is to be Caroline Flack’s last screen performance stroking the ego of McCreadie which now seems as haunting as the rest of the film with humour that falls flat and a mockery of real-life issues which Winterbottom fails to bring to justice.

Told in a mockumentary style, McCreadie’s biographer, played by David Mitchell, is used to play out flashbacks of his life and his retail empire.

Mitchell is the saving grace of the film despite his character Nick being much more tamed and reserved than his better-known role as Mark Corrigan from Peep Show.

Comedy often falls short in Greed and Coogan’s excessive use of “c*nt” is too relied on for humour. Although, celebrities such as James Blunt making jokes at the expense of themselves were a good touch.

It was too hopeful of Winterbottom to expect laughs at the expense of underpaid workers and refugees.

Greed is out in UK cinemas on February 21.

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