e street film society

“Generation Wealth” Movie Review by Daniel Barnes

Generation Wealth documentaryGeneration Wealth (2018; Lauren Greenfield)


By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 27, at the Landmark Clay in San Francisco, the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley and the Regency Cinemas 6 in San Rafael.

The Queen of Versailles director and long-time documenter of conspicuous consumption Greenfield creates her own Cameraperson with this loosely knit memoir/highlight reel.

This scattershot film follows Greenfield as she puts together a career-spanning retrospective covering her many professional obsessions, including obscene wealth, over-sexualized children, toxic body images and self-made celebrities.

Besides attempting to shape the disjointed projects of her photography and filmmaking career into a semi-coherent commentary on Who We Are Now, Greenfield also offers autobiographical insight into the people and personal insecurities that shaped her worldview.  The degree of difficulty here is off the charts, and the wildly uneven results only make the achievement of Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson all the more impressive.

Greenfield’s thematic leaps from teens with eating disorders to sex-tape celebrities to Icelandic stockbrokers often come off as exploitative yet judgmental, and the scenes focusing on her family feel disconnected and slightly egomaniacal.

Despite some strong passages, Generation Wealth lurches around like crazy, with an ending that concludes: 1) the empire has crumbled, the planet is doomed, the apocalypse is nigh; and 2) the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.

Read more of Daniel’s reviews at Dare Daniel and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to Daniel on the Dare Daniel podcast.