Greed review – a bullish, satirical dark comedy

March 6, 2020
M.N. Miller 0
Film, Film Reviews


Coogan’s gleaming, toothy white bite in Greed has some searing wit and a bruising browbeating leaves its mark.



Coogan’s gleaming, toothy white bite in Greed has some searing wit and a bruising browbeating leaves its mark.

The sole reason to seek out the ever-eclectic Michael Winterbottom’s satirical dark comedy Greed is the performance by longtime collaborator, Steve Coogan. He’s a bullish, hostile, selfish, seriously pragmatic, and volatile ruthless businessman who loves nothing more than a great value in any deal he executes; most of the time he is so far ahead of the deal that his targets are hardly aware the transaction has taken place. It’s already set in stone, and he knows it, even after walking away. He’s a less cuddly cross between Simon Cowell and Mark Cuban; he’s even more foul-mouthed.

Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie, an uber-rich English fashion mogul who has so much money he makes Louis Vuitton appear he has more work to do to reach his full potential. McCreadie is a self-made billionaire who has a business crisis on his hands with a tarnishing of his image after a public hearing questioning his business methods. To rebuild his good name, he and his team plan to throw a lavish 60th birthday party in his honor. They even hire celebrity impersonators to make the occasion look like he’s back on top— even if one is the late George Michael. They build a makeshift Roman Coliseum, equipped with a real lion. They bring his family to film their reality television show, and he finds out to his dismay the Kardashians have more money than he does, per his ex-wife (played with great gusto by the pint-size Ilsa Fisher). There to chronicle it all is a newly hired biographer (Peep Show’s David Mitchell) who is overwhelmed at the McCreadie family lifestyle.

Greed is the sixth collaboration between Coogan and Winterbottom behind the camera and the most famous being 24-Hour Party People (with a seventh film coming later this year; the fourth in the “trip” series, The Trip to Greece). Winterbottom, while not all his films have been successful, has such a risk-taking philosophy when taking on projects, being so varied and different, it’s reminiscent of the way Nicolas Cage picked films in his ’90s heyday. What other man would have over thirty films to his credit that range from comedy and drama to documentary, thriller, satires, sci-fi, period pieces, and even the foreign film genre?

Greed is another risk for him and in the classic Winterbottom fashion, it blends genres that work well together but will produce confounding results for many. The script takes a good 30 minutes to find its groove. When it does, its sharp tongue takes over; Coogan’s white, toothy bite can be deadpan, with searing wit, and some bruising browbeating that leaves its mark. Jamie Blackley does a fine job capturing Coogan’s mannerisms and establishing the art of the deal in his formative years. His script does have some noticeable pacing problems. While Blackley’s performance is a good one, as soon as it abandons the flashbacks, it then gets back on track

Then there is the socially conscious message that it establishes from the beginning, but not as successful as one would hope. Dinita Gohil plays Amanda, a McCreadie employee, who is the warm heart (and an even colder one later) of the film who comes to realize how her own ethics have been wandering for years. The film also dedicates a portion to her flashback of how she ended up in the UK and her connection to her boss that went beyond her career years. While Gohil is a standout here, the narrative feels forced, but still effective.

Greed would have been a much stronger film if it focused solely on the McCreadie family party, abandoning the uneven flashback sequences, and concentrating on a straight satire while Mitchell’s biographer character could have drawn out their own personal views and character motivation would come clean in real-time interviews. However, you have to admire its go-for-broke finale when so many films don’t have the guts to go there. Coogan’s gleaming, toothy white bite in Greed has some searing wit and a bruising browbeating leaves its mark, even if it needed a little more polish to make its heavy-handed points.

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