An eye-opening documentary on wealth

Generation Wealth coverGeneration Wealth
Directed by Lauren Greenfield
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.

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 of
cut-price plastic surgery, or excerpts from an adult movie – it’s just there for the shock value. And her interviews with 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.