Cannes Review: Money Monster

A surface film with an artistically rough open that sustains itself on a blockbuster tried and tested riskless formula.

In tune with the television show which it depicts the picture is based on drawing in the audience, with some dialogue including the first and last lines almost breaking the fourth wall. Most of these lines directed at the audience are at the expense of the structure of the cinematic world that has been created and don’t provide any further exposition at all. The first line while debatably justified begins a boomerang of knowledge, which is then again rolled over again throughout the course of the film and therefore renders the opening useless.

As it progressed the opening also attempts to derive the audience’s empathy for any character. However, that is done so quickly and without course that it is effectiveness is also rendered mute. When the hostage situation begins and that first shot is fired up into the air there is no sudden breath of shock, time doesn’t slow down onscreen or for the audience — we’re just left with the beginning of a new act.

The collaboration between actors Julia Roberts and George Clooney is the most powerful aspect of the picture. The actors’ intensity ramps up what little thrilling quality there is of the film and as the feature progress it fills in the faults of the screenwriters. The supporting roles portrayed by Caitriona Balfe, Lenny Venito, and Giancarlo Esposito also greatly assist the film in recovering from its opening.

The stereotypical film studio perspective of looking at productions as risk management portfolios is what most likely caused this film to be so easily set up as an artistic failure for any crew. This is because the film had three primarily studio only writers — one of which was not credited with the original idea.

From the producers, director and editors’ chairs their only fault was the absence of a pace throttle from the opening to the hostage situation, if these sequences were reversed you would feel no sense of calm or relief after the hostage situation. In a way, it’s a thriller that’s always thrilling which is, in fact, two equal forces pulling against each other, the result neither move. The repercussion of this is that the entire film plays with the same cuts and camera motion until the final act plays. However, even in that final act, it’s the long exposure to the score’s shifting tempo, movement on screen and the superb acting that creates the thrill and unease. In other words, this film has suffered many faults and could have been a much better with a little risk taken on by the studio.

Director Jodie Foster’s blocking does play very well yet most of the time its meaning seems lost and at others rendered mute by the editing.

The score takes up its hand in correcting the errors of the movie while remaining seamless. This is a particular moment where a composer can thrive in the perspective of any audience and on the level of effectiveness Dominic Lewis’ score plays triumphantly.

The film is focused on the production of a financial television show called Money Monster hosted by Lee Gates, portrayed by George Clooney as he takes to the airwaves to give everyday traders insight on which stocks to buy and sell. That is until one average day Lee is taken hostage on the air by Kyle Budwell, played by Jack O’Connell, an amateur trader that lost everything on his solo trade. As he is taken hostage Lee turns to his producer Patty, played by Julia Roberts, to keep him calm and alive. At Kyle’s demand, the show keeps broadcasting live as he says what he wanted to hold those that wronged him to account. As Kyle’s story unravels along with his the remains of his life a Wall Street conspiracy shows itself as the culprit for everything

At the day’s end, it’s a film that while more classifiable as television class is an easy watch with what’s a particularly original idea that’s worth a watch if only for the entertainment and acting on display.


About the Author


Editor-in-Chief of Tastic Film Magazine James Rush.