Magazine article Screen International

'Money Monster': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Money Monster': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Jodie Foster. US. 2016. 98mins

For a movie which is focused on current events, Money Monster feels five years behind the times. Chronicling a hostage scenario that takes place on live television, this unpersuasive thriller wants to examine the poisonous allure of cable news, the obscenity of Wall Street corruption, and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. But director Jodie Foster fails to bring anything incisive to the story, and as a result her insights into these modern-day ills have little sting - even worse, the movie parades them as audacious revelations. Veteran stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts bring some gravitas to the proceedings, but this ungainly mixture of Dog Day Afternoon, Network and The Big Short neither stirs the imagination nor quickens the pulse.

Premiering at Cannes shortly before it hits US theatres on May 13, Money Monster will skew older than the typical summer studio movie, and no doubt Sony hopes that the film's topicality and aging stars will attract audiences who want to skip superhero fare. But drab reviews could lead to mediocre word-of-mouth, meaning the movie might not live up to its name at the box office.

Clooney plays Lee Gates, the smug host of a flashy cable news show that offers stock tips to viewers. On the day that his brilliant, long-suffering producer Patty Fenn (Roberts) will be leaving the program, Lee is ambushed on the air by Kyle (Jack O'Connell), a desperate man with a gun who blames the host for his money woes. (Kyle took Lee's advice about investing in a seemingly can't-miss stock, losing his savings in the process.) Kyle threatens to kill Lee right there in the studio, and the host tries to reason with his assailant while a growing audience at home watches the tense standoff.

Foster's fourth film as a director - and her first since 2011's gutsy but flimsy satire The Beaver - shows her continuing to shiftgenres with each new project. But despite capable lensing from long-time Darren Aronofsky cinematographer Matthew Libatique, Money Monster lacks the confidence behind the camera that would make this thriller taut or juicily compelling. Whether she's depicting the controlled chaos behind the scenes of a popular live cable show or exploring the mystery of precisely why this stock collapsed, Foster shows no knack for the fast-paced material. The movie is competently made, but also perfunctory, telling us things about the greed of rich business executives and the shallowness of cable TV that we already know. …

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