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film review

Steve Coogan as tycoon Sir Richard McCreadie in Greed.Amelia Troubridge/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

  • Greed
  • Written and directed by Michael Winterbottom
  • Starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher and David Mitchell
  • Classification 14A; 104 mins

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

Filmmaker Michael Winterbottom has a knack for choosing the storytelling mode that best suits his material – in Greed’s case, it’s a rhizomatic structure as complex as the sprawling economic shell game it explains. As it follows the exploits of self-made retail billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) leading up to his Gladiator-themed birthday party, the satire dissects the way layers of glamour, capitalism, vanity and celebrity interconnect and maintain the fast-fashion supply-chain’s garment worker exploitation.

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The main framing device is a countdown, with flashback biography, semi-documentary scenes, industry facts and financial concept explainers, all folded in with dryly clever comedic elements. Greed’s antihero is known as “Rich" to his intimates and his surname earns him the moniker “greedy McCreadie.” It’s not subtle stuff but then, investigative journalism, censure, documentary exposés and empathy haven’t worked so far to cure our rapacious fast-fashion appetite – so why not a movie?

The main framing device is a countdown, with flashback biography, semi-documentary scenes, industry facts, and financial concept explainers, all folded in with dryly clever comedic elements.Amelia Troubridge/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

A movie as polemic, to be sure, but the structural gambit works and it’s far more entertaining than you’d expect from the subject matter. And it brings about a great moment of schadenfreude through a literal riff on the concept of the invisible hand of the market. As Gordon Gekko would say, Greed is good.

Greed opens March 6

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