Lauren Greenfield's documentary THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (2012) was a real eye-opener into the world of wealth obsession --- and the sometime disastrous outcomes of those predilections. With GENERATION WEALTH, Greenfield has expanded upon that narrative by further demonstrating the phenomenon of "wealth culture".
Greenfield has been documenting the effect of wealth through her photography for 25 years. In compiling a book --- and also a showing of her photography --- she realized the treasure trove of materials she had to compose a documentary. Following people from all walks of life --- the uber-wealthy to the rich wannabes --- we are subjected to the manic obsessions with money and the problems associated with "never enough".
Much of Greenfield's work is riveting, especially when she focuses on the foibles and destructive tendencies sometimes associated with the personalities of the individuals who achieve great wealth. It's only when she spends too much time on her own family issues that GENERATION WEALTH fails.
Frankly, I don't care that her oldest son achieved a perfect score on his ACTs or that her younger son feels inferior to his older brother because of it. Then there is the whole Harvard issue, because everyone in her family seems to have gone there --- and her sons resent the pressure.
Oh, boo hoo --- these kids seem fairly well adjusted, even if their mother traveled a lot for her career. Her particular family dilemmas have no real bearing on the substance of her film. To me, it was nothing other than a distraction from the real issues.
Though Greenfield has been brilliant at times, GENERATION WEALTH is a disappointment. The fact that her subjects regret their decisions can be a positive if, in fact, they abhor their choices and truly believe family is the most important thing. Or, do they just miss the money?
Opinion: Wait For DVD
Writer/director Lauren Greenfield was evidently seeking to compile a compelling documentary about the "me generation" amid what is described as the most extreme wealth of any society in history. She falls well short of the mark. Her movie, GENERATION WEALTH, is neither shocking, nor revealing, nor original --- nor compelling.
Her camera is focused on several individuals with varying degrees of income and riches, most of whom seem unhappy despite having little or no debt. How many people would like to be in their shoes?
One man in particular proudly exclaims at the beginning of his interview that he could buy any toy he wanted --- any boat --- any house. He becomes a downtrodden (and totally unsympathetic) individual only after he is forced to live in Germany to avoid extradition to the U.S. to face felony tax charges.
Greenfield's 2012 film entitled THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is a far better look at extremely rich people. And the 2013 movie THE BLING RING, which was based on real events, is far more entertaining and revealing about the lengths this generation will go to in order to obtain wealth.
GENERATION WEALTH is a dull film...and Jeanne and I generally love a good documentary. One rather large complaint: the director spends so much time filming her immediate family, the only reaction I could summon was, "Who cares?"
Opinion: Don't Bother!