Michael Winterbottom’s Greed is the latest film starring a sociopathic protagonist whose rise to success leaves a wake of misery. But rather than lauding Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie for his business acumen and excessive lifestyle, Winterbottom condemns him with a fate befitting the film’s Greek setting.
Greed viciously lampoons capitalism and the fashion industry as it chronicles the life of McCreadie (Steve Coogan), a thinly veiled parody of Britain’s Sir Philip Green. We learn about the character through Nick (David Mitchell), McCreadie’s biographer and world’s most awkward human. As Nick interviews the people closest to the ‘King of High Street,’ we learn McCreadie is a charismatic asshole whose actions have had very real consequences.
Winterbottom’s screenplay is scathing and witty, and Sarah Crowe’s casting compliments it perfectly.
Coogan and Isla Fisher, who plays McCreadie’s ex-wife Samantha, both capture the charm and loathsomeness of their characters. McCreadie and Samantha could both be seen as over the top, but something about Coogan and Fisher’s performances makes it clear they are parodying the already ridiculous—that over the top is the minimum distance they have to go.
Mitchell nails his character perfectly as a man who is both out of his element and in over his head. His performance plays well off of Dinita Gohil’s. Her character Amanda has the most significant character arc of the film, and by the end, it recenters on her. Gohil’s performance is strong enough to sell the most pointed lines of the film and to command the audience’s attention in even her most subtle moments.
Because the film unfolds largely in line with Nick’s interviews, it has the feel of a documentary without really being a true mockumentary. Still, you can tell that Winterbottom also has experience as a documentary filmmaker, and Greed is so closely based on real events that it feels like it’s playing jump rope with fact and fiction. This comes to a head in the closing credits where Winterbottom shares facts about the fashion industry and refugees in Greece.
While some have criticized Greed as overly didactic, it’s combination of searing social commentary and witty humour make for both an entertaining and satisfying watch.
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