wed 21/11/2018

DVD: Generation Wealth | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Generation Wealth

DVD: Generation Wealth

An intriguing documentary ramble through greed, money and vicarious displays of excess

'Limo Bob' contemplating good taste in Generation Wealth

“Psychopathologies come and go but they always tell us about the historical time period in which they’re produced.” So says the journalist and academic Chris Hedges in Lauren Greenfield’s documentary Generation Wealth. The idea the film plays with is that a psychopathology which currently dominates to a morbid degree is our obsession with being rich and, as much, with the public signifiers of wealth. Its hour and 40 minutes length is never dull, offering up regular revelatory tidbits, but rather than a driving sense of focus and purpose, Greenfield chooses to wander her chosen terrain in a more haphazard manner.

generation wealthShe is certainly the woman for the job. Her life as a photographer has been one long overview of the rituals of the superrich, and her film career has also focused in this area, notably with 2012’s The Queen of Versailles about a couple building a monstrously gigantic home in Florida (they pop up here too, the folly of their vision now clear to all, themselves included).

In Generation Wealth she initially returns to Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood, her early-Nineties monograph which documented the wild ways of LA’s monied young, catching up a quarter of a century later with those she’d photographed, such as Paris Cronin, son of REO Speedwagon’s lead singer. They ponder their decadent pasts with varying degrees of pathos. Then Greenfield is off on a more general overview, notably featuring Florian Homm, an old Harvard associate of hers, now an ex-Hedge Fund Manager who's escaped US justice to reside in his native Germany. He ruminates gleefully about greed while sucking on a large cigar before we’re eventually shown his more penitent side.

And so it goes as the film hops about between an assortment of intriguing characters, notably a woman whose life fell to pieces as a result of thinking it best to spend everything she had and more on plastic surgery, and the mother/daughter stars of a toddler beauty pageant reality TV show. Most uncomfortable of all are the sections featuring Charlie Sheen’s ex-lover Kacey Jordan. She plummets into self-loathing, misery and suicide attempts as she frantically pushes her the porn career. It's horrible and ugly.

The whole film is seasoned, via a career-summating exhibition, with Greenfield’s own self-analysis; why she works so hard; leaves her family for weeks on jobs; what role her parents had in creating who she is; whether she is actually a workaholic. These sequences add an unevenness to the tone of the film which further skews its sense of dynamism.

"Societies accrue their greatest wealth at the moment they face death,” Chris Hedges ventures pessimistically towards the end, although we’re allowed some positivity and redemption before the final reel. Generation Wealth is interesting and thought-provoking but it lacks a driving edge to elevate it beyond that. Extras are the trailer and an interview with Greenfield, but since her personal narrative and motivations are explored extensively throughout the film, the latter is less than necessary.

Below: watch the trailer for Generation Wealth

 
The film hops between an assortment of characters, notably a woman whose life fell to pieces as a result of thinking it best to spend everything she had and more on plastic surgery

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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