Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment
For the majority of Greed’s run-time, the film seems to be undergoing a bit of an identity crisis. The driving force, Steve Coogan’s portrayal of fashion mogul Richard McCreadie, is a very obvious representation of real-life disgraced businessman Philip Green, but the depiction of events around him is slightly more complicated. In covering McCreadie/Green’s coloured life and career, the film seems to be unable to find its footing in any particular style: the jokes aren’t consistent enough for it to be a comedy, the characters not strong enough for a loaded drama.
McCreadie’s characterisation by Coogan is undoubtedly a high point of the film, but in trying to deal with all facets of the fashion industry’s woes, the film applies a scattergun approach that makes its other messages, largely about globalisation, fall a little flat.
That said, McCreadie is well-written, and Coogan shines amidst a cast of relatively uninteresting characters. The effort made to make the whole thing seem real is very evident, and viewers will be struggling to believe that the whole thing is made up as the script bounces from BBC news reports, to House of Commons Select Committee hearings, to McCreadie’s classic upbringing at a boy’s boarding school.
The exploration of the economic impact of the fashion industry is hammered home in the closing credits, in case you’d missed the left-leaning message throughout the rest of the film, but it still feels like Greed could have benefited from focusing specifically on Greed’s life and various moral failings: much of the film seems to be filling time before the finale of the party in Greece, rather than developing the viewer’s perceptions of the industry in a meaningful way.
With several members of the cast of the BBC’s mockumentary The Thick Of It, the film has substantial overlap with other satirical comedies. This is made more obvious by the army of stand-ups and British panel show regulars who are also shown prominently, from David Mitchell, to Asim Chaudry, to Tim Key. The show’s strength is in appearances by these comedy greats, who are allowed a fair few one-liners that allow them to shine.
The film is an excellent, clever portrayal of an odious character who has been at the centre of Britain’s very real media circus over the past few years. It’s well worth a watch, if only to witness Coogan’s excellent return to comedy beyond Partridge, and David Mitchell making an excellent job of playing himself.
Editor's Note: This film was screened at City Screen York