An eye-opening documentary on wealth

Series review: Generation WealthLauren Greenfield's exploration of the excesses of wealth is worth watching for the dark comedy alone.


Generation Wealth
(Image credit: © 2018 AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC)

Amazon Studios, BBFC rating: 18, Currently on general release

Buy at Amazon

Photographer Lauren Greenfield delves into America's obsession with wealth and extravagance in this eye-opening documentary. Having spent the last 25 years chronicling the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Greenfield has had no trouble finding suitable subjects disgraced hedge-fund manager Florian Homm stands out in a cast that gives him plenty of competition.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

About halfway through, Greenfield makes digressions into areas such as America's obsession with attaining the perfect body and her own relationship with her workaholic mother. While some of these elide well with the main theme, others seem ill-suited. There's no real justification, for example, for the footage ofcut-price plastic surgery, or excerpts from an adult movie it's just there for the shock value. And her interviewswith her Harvard-bound son seem more like bragging (did I tell you he's going to Harvard?) than anything.

For all that, the film's take on our often toxic relationship with money is compelling. The segments that involve Homm are worth the ticket price alone (at one point he bitterly complains about a luxury holiday in a hilltop castle that cost him a fortune in forgone trading profits because he couldn't get a signal). As the years pass, we get to see how her subjects' attitudes have changed. Worth watching, for the moments of dark comedy if for nothing else.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri