This Michael Winterbottom film has A LOT of Russell Brand in it, so if you're not a fan, you may tire of having to put up with frame after frame of his presence. Using a mixture of documentary, interviews, archive footage and comedy, this film is meant to shake up the world by revealing the truth about how the people at the bottom are paying for the luxuries of those at the top.
Russell Brand takes us from his hometown Grays in Essex, to the heart of London 'City' and on to the Big Apple, but not before visiting Little Thurrock Primary School which he attended as a child.
Primarily this film brings to attention and discusses inequality and how the divide is getting greater; where the rich have got richer while the poor struggle. There was a time when a CEO of a major British company used to earn 10 times the average wage of his workers, now they earn 200 times. According to Oxfam, the richest 80 people in the world own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion. It would now take 300 years for the average cleaner, cleaning the offices of his senior boss, to earn the same salary taken home by the same boss last year. People working in the same building but living in different worlds.
The major gripe and discussion seems to revolve around the banking industry, bankers who made hundreds and billions in the run up to the 'crash'. Once the inevitable happened, it seems they were not held responsible for the great financial losses. This 2008 financial crisis should have been a chance to reform the system for the benefit of everyone. Instead difficult economic conditions were created for everyone through Britain and Europe, a price everyone paid for supporting the financial sector with £131 billion spent by UK tax payers to keep the financial system afloat, while $30 trillion in support and subsidies went to Wall Street in the US.
Once on their feet, the bankers didn't have to give up their bonuses and went on to make more money fanning an institutionalisation of greed. Russell attempts to contact and have the bankers face up to consequences and to perhaps even do some jail time for criminal behaviour and 'financial skullduggery', but to no avail.
Brand interviews low-paid cleaners, supermarket staff and disabled workers about the effects of welfare cuts and austerity while he unsuccessfully attempts to question the heads of RBS and Lloyds about their bonuses. He drives around London with a megaphone and 'wanted' posters of bankers, referring to them as criminals. It also shows Brand campaigning with at-risk housing tenants and protesting at Occupy rallies.
It's been said that this film is not exposing anything we don't know about. It seems to be trying to start a conversation about how we don't need to live this way, that change can happen and does happen. That we can start to make the changes now.
Did anyone leave the cinema wrestling with their thoughts I wonder. Will they be stepping up onto the plate determined to do something to make the change happen? There were not a lot of solutions about how to go about things to make the changes. Russell Brand is watchable but I'm not entirely sure he's going to have much of an impact in solving the issues he's covering. This is a 6 out of 10 for me.