Generation Wealth - This Movie Rocks In Places, But Not All Of 'Em
Dir: Lauren Greenfield
Starring Lauren Greenfield, the Greenfields
Lauren Greenfield’s follow up to The Queen Of Versailles initially proposes itself as a look at what one commentator refers to as an American society teetering on the same brink as Rome before it burned. Money – the having, the having not, the desire, the overwhelming decadence and all such things appears to be the grist to Greenfield’s mill here.
But the film that emerges is more a portrait of Greenfield herself. A look at a culmination of twenty-five years of her work, as she prepares a large retrospective book and exhibition, and catches up with the lives of many of those she has documented over the years. Yet, Greenfield seeks to lace this in a wider cultural context – occasionally popping over to Iceland to film boom and bust bankers turned fishermen, to Germany to find hedge fund managers in exile, to porn stars to her own family, increasingly the latter as the film develops.
It’s an interesting movie but an unbalanced one, with interviewees proclaiming the end of the world economically, using the pyramids of Egypt and the rise of the Kardasians both as symbols of the decadent decline of civilisation, and then cutting to footage of Greenfield as a proud mother congratulating her son on his high school test scores. It’s as if she wants (or even needs) the macrocosm to justify her own microcosm. And the two do not always sit easily side by side, or even connect at all.
Still, many of her interview subjects (who ironically given her overall intended study of wealth all fit firmly into the ‘not haves”) are often engaging. And there’s a certain pleasure to be found in the fact that the high school jocks did indeed grow up to be arseholes.
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