Michael Winterbottom is wild. I watched a film of his last year at GFF; it was a thriller starring Dev Patel in Pakistan called The Wedding Guest, and it was not the best. He’s more well known for doing projects like The Trip or 24 Hour Party people. So yeah, Greed is a bit of a gear shift again. This time around we’re doing a comedy that is trying to shine a light on the issues in the fashion industry and capitalism. Classic comedy.
I may have had a bit of a sarcastic tone there, but the film does have some genuinely funny moments. The film follows Steve Coogan character Richard McCreadie, a fashion tycoon and owner of fictional clothing store Monda. He is trying to throw a party to get his reputation back after being humiliated at a political hearing.
While it is funny, the only way it ever manages to be is through a lot of “look who it is” humour. For instance, a cameo of James Blunt singing beautiful. These particular moments did have me giving proper belly laughs, but they’re the kind I’m not sure would hold up if I was to rewatch the film. Then we have the even more eye-rolling attempts in the “wow aren’t the rich people ridiculous because they have *insert expensive thing here*.”
The main cast is pretty great here. Steve Coogan is on top form as he usually is. Getting immersed in a character that is equal parts silly as they are dangerous, which is something, he is quite good at doing. There is an element of Malcolm Tucker (a character from The Thick of it) to him, especially in the flashbacks. He plays a bit of a take no prisoners/sweary type before shifting in the present day to play someone much more older and chiller but equally as vile now that his old. There are a lot of laughs from him in particular.
David Mitchell also works well in this mix. Here he plays a biographer tasked with documenting the party and the life of Coogan’s character. He brings his unique brand of awkward humour that can be seen in his other work like Peep Show and by that, I mean he plays the character he always plays in everything, which is, of course, funny. There are more supporting roles from the likes of Isla Fisher and more and like I say; they give it their all it is just a shame that they are let down by the sort of blandness of the film.
We go from shining a light on the working conditions in Bangladesh and places like it to the Syrian refugee crisis. This is all leaning on the juxtaposition of McCreadie’s party, showing the insane amount of wealth that some people possess. Of course, this all goes hand-in-hand with each other, but there is never enough through-line for it to feel natural for the story to go.
They’re trying to show the blatant inequality. Still, the tone from the party atmosphere causes this whiplash that never seamlessly go into each other. The comedy aspect doesn’t work with the severity of what they’re trying to show. Every issue manages to feel disconnected and never really exposed enough, or in the case of the displays of wealth, it becomes the punchline to many jokes.
There are amusing moments in Greed, and the issues that it tries to get across about the wealth gap and working conditions in fashion are important. The film fails to make these points and also work as a good comedy despite having a couple of hilarious moments. This is a shame because despite the main cast giving it all they can they can’t save it from mediocrity.
Greed opens in UK cinemas on February 21st