I was reminded this morning by the occasionally irritating “Bruce Taking A Nap” that I’d never posted a review of Michael Winterbottom‘s Greed (Sony Pictures Classics, 2.28).
Reply: Good heavens! I saw Winterbottom’s reasonably well-made, generally respectable one-percent satire around 2.20. I didn’t just “forget” to review it. I wasn’t that deeply stirred, you see, and somehow it slid to the side. I’m nonetheless sorry for dropping the ball. Not cool, profound apologies to Michael and Tom, won’t happen again.
Steve Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie, a super-rich, Philip Green-resembling garment industry titan who ruthlessly exploits the Indian labor market by insisting on paying less than $4 or even $3 per day for sewing-machine sweatshop workers (location unspecified but think Myanmar or Bangladesh).
I found it hard to get it up because I had determined that Greed was a decent but somewhat minor effort — emphasis on the “somewhat” as it hits what it’s aiming at. The Rotten Tomato rating was nonetheless 48%.; Metacritic was 52%.
I was partly influenced by the fact that Greed had screened at the Toronto and Santa Barbara Film Festivals without generating what I would call significant heat. The promotional lead-up to the U.S. opening was accompanied by a certain lack of hoopla, and I somehow allowed my attention to wander and wither.
I wasn’t shocked to learn once again that certain garment industry titans (like Zara’s Amancio Ortega and H&M’s Stefan Persson) have become multi-billionaires off the backs of hand-to-mouth Indian workers. I was a wee bit underwhelmed, I suppose, when I realized early on that the basic thrust of Greed was to say this over and over again — i.e., that McCreadle (who has huge, show-white teeth) is an insanely greedy prick. Yes, agreed, he is that…and that’s it? Yes, the basic idea.
Greed isn’t a drama or a comedy as much as an instructional one-note satire.
I suppose I didn’t feel that repeatedly making this point was enough. But within this parameter, Greed is a reasonably good film in a Michael Winterbottom sort of way. Seriously. I know what this review sounds like, but I’m not putting it down. Not really, I mean.