Renowned documentary photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield returns to the screen with a retrospective film that looks back on 25 years of her work on wealth, luxury and ultra-consumerism. The film features several subjects that Greenfield began interviewing early on in her career as they describe what drove them to pursue their lives of opulence, lifestyles described in the film by Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges as scenes from ‘the last days of Rome’.
Although the Amazon Studios-backed film unfolds in the fast-paced and drama-led style that most contemporary documentaries do, (sentimental score to accentuate emotional beats included), it proves itself to be an honest and unrelenting exploration of the extremes of the post-Reagan-Thatcher hyper-consumerist era that spread rapidly after the end of the Cold War thanks to globalisation, and remains still highly relevant today, ultimately serving as an explanation as to why a reality TV star (albeit a racist, sexist and downright insane reality TV star) is now sitting in the White House. Or at least playing golf on US taxpayers money.
Greenfield uses her subjects and their dollar-driven workaholism to reflect upon her own ambitions and inner conflict - whether it’s unresolved issues with her mother or the nature of her relationship with her kids, issues that unfold in candid family interviews that are liable to bring the viewer to tears (or to phone their mother immediately after the film finishes).
Generation Wealth is a commercially-minded documentary made by a highly passionate anthropological filmmaker that takes a personal and heartfelt look at the inevitably self-destructive nature of the American Dream.
~ George Bartlett