Satire about the world of the super-rich.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writers: Michael Winterbottom (screenplay), Sean Gray (additional material by)
Stars: Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, David Mitchell, Sophie Cookson, Shirley Henderson, Asa Butterfield
In which director Michael Winterbottom reunites with Steve Coogan (pictured right) in a caustic and often hilarious satire targeted at exploitative businessmen and dim, avaricious celebrities. Coogan plays fashion tycoon Richard McCreadie, alias Greedy McCreadie. Presumably Winterbottom’s lawyers have been all over this, because nobody can fail to mistake McCreadie for disgraced billionaire Sir Philip Green.
We’re in Mykonos, where Sir Greedy is staging a lavish Ancient Rome-themed party to celebrate his 60th birthday. As Bulgarian workers build a shoddy, fake Coliseum and Clarence the tame lion waits drowsily to re-enact scenes from Gladiator, McCreadie haggles over the prices of guest superstars (Sir Elton or Robbie Williams for £1m, Tom Jones for £350k), as he has always haggled over everything. Flashbacks to his supercilious youth find him hustling bargain-basement prices from Sri Lankan garment manufacturers and even tuk-tuk drivers, while his list of failed enterprises on the British high street offers such names as Xcellent, Impresse and Eclipse, the very acme of tawdriness. The quality of Sir Greedy’s goods is about equal to the torrent of obscenities which constitutes his everyday speech, and Winterbottom supplies a useful how-to guide on asset-stripping.
It’s disturbing how comfortable Coogan looks within this repulsive creation (his set of oversized brilliant white teeth is a masterly touch), as almost everyone is hosed with righteous disgust, from McCreadie’s ridiculous daughter in her reality TV show to David Mitchell as McCreadie’s grovelling biographer. Assorted celebs including Chris Martin and Colin Firth do little birthday pop-ups, which they might regret in hindsight. The satirical tone suddenly veers into high seriousness when the end credits bristle with captions decrying the fashion industry’s exploitation of Asian workers and deploring celebs who endorse high-end fashion brands. Here, Winterbottom and his cast come perilously close to devouring themselves.
– Adam Sweeting, The Arts Desk