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Review: Money Monster

Ros Hull

Arrogant TV financial advisor Lee Gates and his producer Patty are at the top of their game on CNBC, with the show ‘Money Monster’, on which stocks to buy and sell…

When Gates promotes a high-tech stock that mysteriously crashes, he is held hostage on live TV by Kyle Budwell. IMDb 

I have long admired the director of this film, Jodie Foster.

She has undeniable talent as an actor, being nominated for her first Oscar™ at just 16 for Taxi Driver, and holding her own in comedies, drama and sci-fi alike over almost 40 years of acting. She has sung or slipped on banana peels as required but has always seems dignified, even when being frightened out of her wits.

However, I admire her even more for standing by friends when the politically savvy thing to do would be to dump them (Mel Gibson) and for keeping her private life private, as she stated in her acceptance speech for the Cecil B De Mille award in 2013. In the same speech she signalled a desire to change positions on film, to be behind the camera rather than in front of it and has since directed episodes of both Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. This is her big(ger) budget debut.

I am happy to say it is a complete success.

But don’t take my word for, look at the numbers – in just four weeks it has recouped twice what it cost to make.

It is intelligent, well made and compelling but still humanist and a (rare) good use of the real-time technique of filmmaking. All the action takes place in the space of one afternoon – starting just a few moments before the live Money Monster show goes to air and ending just after the cameras are switched off.

What happens in between is a roller coaster ride with twists and turns, unexpected humour, inevitable peril and a mirror held up to the cynicism of big investment and the money markets.

The director draws well-tuned, dynamic performances from her two stellar leads (George Clooney and Julia Roberts) but if I had any quibble it would be that some of the support roles (Dominic West as the shady CEO, the police captain and the hostage negotiator) are cut-and-paste characters from Central Casting.

Although this is balanced with excellent roles for every woman on screen.

In the end, no questions are really answered but many are raised. Between the this film and The Big Short, I am left wondering what the real money monsters are doing with investors’ virtual money and whether it would be better to keep my meagre savings in a sock under the mattress…

Feature image via

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author