Jodie Foster has been acting for over 40 years and she’s only just in her 50’s having won a couple of Oscars along the way with some memorable roles. She’s also been directing since 1988 with her first feature being 1991’s ‘Little Man Tate’ which was somewhat less memorable than the title of her 2011 film, ‘The Beaver’ and you can imagine how puerile the press became when it came to asking one another if they’d seen Jodie Foster’s Beaver. But that was 5 years ago and her first foray back into directing is ‘Money Monster’ ( or, ‘My first wife’ as the Editor calls it).
Here George Clooney is Lee Gates, a flamboyant and arrogant TV host, of the popular financial show Money Monster doling out share tips. Though the intricacies of share dealing is hardly exciting his TV host delights in jigging about the studio floor in various costume to grab his audiences attention and when we first see him host the show he dressed like Poundstretcher version of Public Enemy’s Flava Flav frankly it’s like watching dad dancing at a wedding party. With Julia Roberts as his Producer /Director all goes well until she notices lurking in the back of the set a lone male who turns out to be Jack O Connell , furious at having lost all his money on the stock market thanks to the TV hosts advice. Now most TV crews will tell you about the adrenaline rush of a live show and it has produced some spontaneously great moment and YouTube is chock full of them but few have had a member of the public take the host hostage and forced him to swop his yellow stock floor jacket for one packed with semtex and then demand answers about why their investment went so wrong to the tune of $800m for its investors. With O Connell insistent that the station keeps transmitting or he’ll blow them all up the story unfurls that the financial crash that was blamed on a ‘glitch’ may have had human finger prints all over it.
Starring well known Democrat George Clooney and directed by well know Democrat Jodie Foster the film is a crime thriller about the greed of Capitalism and, in light of the banker scandal, would have been more prescient in 2008 and frankly any decent stockbroker would advise you only to invest what you can afford to lose and O’Connell’s plight seems wholly of his own making having invested all his money in one stock (‘don’t keep all your eggs in one basket’ springs to mind). It’s a sentiment underlined in the film’s best sequence where police negotiators bring in his pregnant girlfriend to speak to him and she reacts in the most unexpected and hilarious way.
The whole cast put in decent enough performances and O ‘Connell is suitably twitchy as he sees his plan and personal life start to implode but like many successful actors who move behind the camera their efforts never quite match their on screen success (albeit Clooney has won an Oscar for producing ‘Argo’ a few years ago) and ‘Money Monster’ sadly is no different. There are some good moments especially when O’Connell’s frustration builds to a possibly cataclysmic conclusion in the studio but this is a rare exception as the film is never as taut as it should be and ultimately this could easily be reproduced as a stage play in what is an adequate but hardly coruscating indictment of Capitalism wrapped inside a so-so thriller that leaves you feeling a little short changed.
Here’s the trailer: