In my line of work I have come across many people who have chosen the fashion industry as their home, some higher up the food chain than others, admittedly. Not everyone I know in the fashion world spends their time waiting in Starbucks for seventeen skinny-mocha-vanilla-lattes for everyone on the photoshoot. The interesting thing, in my mind anyway, is that the lower down in the pecking order people are, the more humble, kind, warm, and generous they tend to be.
Never more has this point be proven than with the film “Greed”. Mercifully I never came into contact with the fashion mogul that is Sir Philip Green. I have, however, read enough horror stories about him to be interested enough to sit down and snuggle up on the sofa with my Tal-Kacca hound Arthur Charles Louis and watch the film upon which the story of his life is based. With director Michael Winterbottom, (24 Hour Party People is still one of my favourite films), and actor and comedian extraordinaire Paul Coogan in the lead role, what could possibly go wrong?
A considerable amount it would appear. A simple enough story, fashion billionaire Sir Richard McCredie is celebrating his 60th birthday on the island of Mykonos, and as one can imagine, no expense has been spared. A star-studded guest list has been put together. The theme is ancient Rome, and an amphitheatre has been built to give guests the thrill of a lion based extravaganza, although we all know that lion fights were Greek not Roman, but this being Hollywood, who cares about such details? The entire film revolves around this odious creature getting exactly what he wants for his party. Rather like a spoiled brat of a child.
There are two main issues that I have with this film. The first is that the script is decidedly lacklustre, I guessed almost every punchline way before it appeared, and the delivery of most of the lines resembled a boring late-night rehearsal, rather than a definitive take. But my real issue with this film is the way in which we are told nothing new about the atrocities that take place in the sweatshops that supply the cheap fashion goods to the high street brands we all know and love. To the point where the clothes we buy have now become almost disposable; wear something once then discard it in turn for something equally as cheap for next weekend’s party. This serious element of the film juxtaposed so strongly with the supposed cheap laughs which so infrequently found their way into the script, that it was nothing short of distasteful.
I tend to steer away from politics, as many of my closest friends will tell you. But I cannot help but notice how in the ten years I have lived on this island, money has become the new king, and greed its erstwhile servant. I worked in the city of London next door to the Bank of England for the best part of a decade, and that ought to give you a decent frame of reference, should you find yourself disagreeing with me.
It is perfectly natural to appreciate the finer things in life, and to aspire to lead a more comfortable existence. But at what cost? Watching ‘Greed’ felt like sifting through the pages of certain well-known magazines. Ostentatious wealth displayed for all and sundry, no sense of humility, just an overwhelming sense of entitlement and superiority.
I apologise profusely that this week I have not embarked on my usual fun and fluffy film review, but this film filled with me with such sadness, that I felt compelled to comment on the avarice I see all around me. How many Sir Philip Greens/Sir Richard McCreadies will it take for Malta to see the light and to put a stop to the sickening level of greed that we all witness on a daily basis.