Is it true that an honest person can’t become a billionaire without cheating? Or without using a cheap workforce from countries such as Burma, Bangladesh, Myanmar or China because that’s the only way to earn revenue? Perhaps. While it is not the case for every wealthy person in the world, “Greed”, is a satire about one individual who does what he believes is right to turn himself into the world’s wealthiest man.
“Greed” follows the self-made billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) who is approaching his 60th birth anniversary. As he prepares for the party of his lifetime (literally), the film offers a backstory of how he earned all this money, while in reality, he struggles as his empire is in a deep crisis. However, what’s meant to be a make-point-party with a bunch of celebrities, the event will take an unprecedented turn with an ending nobody could even predict…
Sir Richard is a ruthless businessman who buys public companies to turn them private. In fact, he does not even have any idea about how to run the business but he is excellent at making deals. For instance, he uses his old card tricks to have the refugees in Greece, where he gets ready for his party, to have them work for free even though he has enough money to pay each and every one of them for their hard work. Earning the reputation of the greediest person, McCready, as we watch him, will earn the same nickname in the eyes of the audience as well.
“Greed”, written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, has an excellent premise and message to convey, sadly, it was too much for one movie. It explains the world where poor people have to work day and night to pay their bills while people like McCreadie look for opportunities to avoid their own. Having such an important subject matter, “Greed” could have had three installments that would work better in terms of unfolding each problem of rich and poor people and how they intersect with each other.
That said, “Greed” is still a fine film that is entertaining throughout. Of course, some may find it a bit messy, but that messiness is justified because of the director’s intention of wanting to touch upon many aspects of life in one piece. A stellar cast led by Steve Coogan delivers a solid performance, including David Mitchell as Nick, McCreadie’s biographer, who watches his subject rise and fall through his shocked eyes.
There is a lot to grasp about “Greed”. But do we learn something from it? Most definitely. Greed has one end only. Selfishness and egoism are good friends but neither can survive if met with resistance. It is funny too but sad at the same time as the film well states that garment workers in Myanmar, for example, earn $3.60 per day working for leading international brands who do nothing for the well being of factory workers that lose their life for jobs nobody in well-established countries would want to do.
Having such information on our hands, do we do something to change it? No. Because while greed, the hunger for power and money exists, we will have to get used to more films like “Greed”. Because this is all that will be left for us to watch powerlessly and feel sorry with no ability to make a difference.