The Bayley Film Club: Michael Winterbottom

It’s round 17th and we are at Michael Winterbottom! The selected films are as follows:
Film 1: Trishna
Film 2: Greed

Check out what we thought of them below…

Trishna

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 3
Score: 7

“Trishna” begins promising a love affair with many bumps and turns, as a wealthy young businessman – Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed) – finds himself infatuated by a beautiful hotel dancer Trishna (Freida Pinto). The film is based on a famous novel by Thomas Hardy “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”.

Trishna’s opportunities are limited by her social status. Her life seems to be the result of other people making decisions for her. Carrying the burden of family’s only keeper she is forced to take a job in one of Jay’s father hotels, far away from home. Jay who is used to fast-paced western life, and getting what he wants, becomes extremely bored managing the family business. And so, beautiful, innocent Trishna quickly becomes the center of his interests. Overwhelmed by generous gifts, Trishna becomes confused upon how to react to Jay’s advances. After a night out with her friends, she founds herself in a situation that surely would  have ended up in a rape if not for Jay. They return to the hotel and spend the night together. Wether this is fully consensual remains up to viewer’s interpretation as we watch the girl flee first thing in the morning.

Trishna returns to her family and soon has an abortion. Then, her father sends her to work at her uncle’s factory. It becomes clear that her priorities are a bit off-the-tracks when she escapes again, this time with Jay, when the soonest opportunity arises, and they start to live together in Mumbai. This ‘happy’ episode ends soon enough when Jay abandons her after hearing about the pregnancy termination.

The third, and last part of the story takes us back to another hotel, where the couple end up in after another reunion. The relationship becomes a continuous spectacle of enslaved Trishna serving her Jay-raja while he exercises his need for power and tests the limits of her dignity by exploiting her both emotionally and sexually. 

The film is extremely slow in terms of action, in fact, I was quite bored through 90% of it. However, this 10% tries to make up for. Trishna is like a pretty doll who is being refused of any independence by the system and society, but pays high price for every decision forced up upon her. We usually find, that people who suffer repeated cruelties, always have a moment of breaking. It can be “breaking in half” or it can be “breaking fee”, and Trishna is the one that breaks free.

Greed

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 3
Score: 7

The film stars Steve Coogan as Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, who is based on Philip Green (British businessman who is the chairman of Arcadia Group, a retail company that includes brands like Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins or Miss Selfridge)

It’s a satirical version of Sir Richard’s becoming. His ruthless climb to success, his style of conducting business, and quality of his relationships – both professional and private. “Greed” is absolutely outrageous, filled with abusive comments and bullying which of course, makes it funny. One could argue, do we really need another film that showers us with all those not-admirable qualities? “Greed” is definitely a vanity fair and in a quite unsuccessful way tries to bring some justice with Sir Richard ending massacred by a cocaine-drugged lion. 

I didn’t enjoy it much, but I did like it’s context. Everything is put in perspective, when we get to the end credits, which were censored by Sony Pictures International (read more here !)

80% of garment workers are women.
9 out of 10 billionaires are men.
Working conditions in Sri Lanka are among the best in the developing world.
Nevertheless these women get paid £4 a day making clothes for famous high street brands.
The top 10 fashion brands made more than $18 billion profit in 2018.
Women working for international brands in Bangladesh earn $2.84 for a 10 hour day.
The top 10 international fashion brands have value of almost $150 billion.Garment workers in Myanmar earn $3.60 per day working for leading international brands.
Many celebrities endorse clothes made by women working for low wages in countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar & Bangladesh.
It’s estimated that more than $30 trillion of wealth is kept in offshore tax havens like Monaco.
Karem arrived by boat in Lesvos on 16th March 2016. He still lives in Greece.
Greece is still hosting 75,000 refugees.
It is estimated that more than 17,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.
The 26 richest people in the world own as much wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion.

Trishna

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 1
Enjoyment: 1
Retrospect: 2
Score: 4

Set in India, a country of extreme opposites, Jay Singh falls in love with local girl Trishna, whilst on holiday. 

He offers Trishna a job at one of his father’s hotel and after some tedious sexual tension, the two begin a strange relationship.

Jay becomes self-entitled and dominant over Trisha, with her position mutating akin to that of a slave – a plight, which sadly I imagine is not uncommon in modern-day India.   

“Trishna” explores urban / rural comparisons in India, together with male domination and abuse in relationships.

The story line is essentially about a western male, who takes advantage of a poor woman from a developing country and leaves her in a worse situation than the one which he felt obliged to free her from.

The film has a promising start, highlighting geographical indifference and the life of a native economic migrant. However, the romance element soon takes precedent, which feels awkward and unbelievable. From this moment on, Trishna never really gets going again. This is disappointing given the sad and powerful ending, which comes and goes too quickly.

Greed

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 2
Score: 7

“Greed” is a satire documenting the rise and fall of Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie – a effervescent billionaire businessman plated by Steve Coogan, who made his fortune in budget fashion.

Sir Richard’s character is a parody of the disgraced Phillip Green, who was exposed for his unethical business practises.

“Greed” switches between humorous flashbacks chronicling the not so rags to riches story of “Greedy”; his questioning by a government committee over illegal asset stripping allegations; and the build up to a ridiculous gladiator themed 60th birthday party, held in Greece, which is ultimately nothing more than a PR stunt given his poor media coverage.

More importantly though, through the accidental investigative work, captured by the ghostwriter for Sir Greedy’s forthcoming autobiography, “Greed” highlights the exploitation of sweatshop workers – in this case in Sri Lanka. 

Overall, “Greed” feels quite low budget because it is, however Coogan’s character provides some truly laugh out loud moments which help to distract from the general lack of style. Whilst nowhere near on the scale of “The Big Short”, it puts a spotlight on questionable business practises, which are seldom punished with the equivalent weight needed. Moreover, whilst the narcissistic McCreadie is oblivious to the injustice perpetuated by the quest for increasingly cheap labour, “Greed” illustrates the terrible working standards and exploitation of sweatshop workers, thus providing an opportunity for the watcher to consider their own purchasing ethics.

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