Writer-director Michael Winterbottom has come up with a nasty satire of how the super rich make their money, and the subject is timely in view of the accusations about the gross inequity between the so-called one percent and the rest of us. The point is made not only via the drama but with the tacked on statistical information at the end. Heavy handed? Yes, but nonetheless effective.
The villain in chief is self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie, wickedly portrayed by Steve Coogan in a role far different from some of his lighter weight often amusing performances. An investigation has tarred his reputation as a prime fashion businessman earning his pile of money.
McCreadie is about to be 60 years old, and to celebrate, in addition to trying to resurrect his reputation, he has set up a lavish birthday party on the Greek island Mykonos. The scene affords the opportunity for plenty of atmosphere and the attendance of celebrities to honor him. On hand is Nick (David Mitchell), who is writing a biography of the tycoon. An eyesore is the group of refugee immigrants who congregate on the beach. McCreadie concocts a resolution.
The island revels are a far cry from the sweatshops in Sri Lanka, where women toil arduously for meager wages and under dangerous conditions to turn out the garments sold for maximum profits. The point is obvious.
“Greed” is rich in satire and McCreadie blusters his way amid the gathering with his customary arrogance as he treats people nastily. He is not a character who engenders likability.
Winterbottom lays everything on thickly, and while we can either laugh or recoil, ultimately, although very uneven as a film, “Greed” makes the sociological and economic points crystal clear. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Reviewed February 28, 2020.