Film, In Review: Money Monster

It boils hot beneath cracked skin, soaking the mind with thoughts of rabid delusions and distorted fantasies. Sanity appears in bouts, transforming lunacy into incentive and then it hits, hard and fast like an alkaline brick…

George Clooney (Lee Gates) and Jack O'Connell (Kyle Budwell) in "Money Monster".

George Clooney (Lee Gates) and Jack O’Connell (Kyle Budwell) in “Money Monster”.

Desperation: we’ve all felt it at one time or another. More often than not, it becomes an emotion so familiar like love, hate, or anger – except its tragedy lies in that it can be either one of these or all of these at once. It doesn’t arrive in an instant, like jealousy or greed, but simmers over time, like lava bubbling low in a dormant volcano with eruption on the brink. In “Money Monster”, desperation manifests the mind of Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a young American who loses his entire life savings at the hands of a prime time gamble. For Kyle, justice isn’t an illusion and the truth isn’t an option.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a pain in the ass to the few who know him and a charismatic host to the millions who watch him play with numbers on the financial whiz program ‘Money Monster’.

Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn) in "Money Monster".

Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn) in “Money Monster”.

It’s the get rich quick scheme rigged for the poor, legitimized by the rich, and directed by show producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). ‘Money Monster’ gives any investor the potential to become extremely wealthy by the dollar or completely bankrupt by the dime. Lee’s job is to encourage his viewers to place their bets based on the incoming numbers. Patty’s role is to keep Lee on script and the show on schedule. When Kyle interrupts the live broadcast with an agenda and a few bullets, Lee is nonetheless unamused. He believes Patty is pranking him. After the gun fires however, he is certain that this isn’t a prank. Kyle then straps a bomb to Lee’s torso and threatens to release the trigger and blow up the entire building and everyone in it. It’s only a matter of seconds before Kyle’s motives become apparent to the entire studio as well as the millions of viewers worldwide tuning in to watch this catastrophe unfold. In “Money Monster” Kyle’s desperation evades rationality for temporary insanity, yet the truth behind his cause is one that reverberates through many.

Directed by Jodie Foster and written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf, “Money Monster” stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Caitriona Balfe, and British actor Jack O’Connell who captivates audiences as the compelling Kyle Budwell. Though the film takes place mostly in the television studio, there are moments where the cinematography goes above and beyond through the streets of New York. Nonetheless, the film oscillates brilliantly between the broadcast and the audience and does well to disintegrate the threshold that divides the world in which we live from the world of television. Through Kyle, “Money Monster” pulls back the curtain to reveal the face lurking behind the mask and the realities hidden within it.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this film is its subtle social commentary, especially in its final scenes. At certain times, “Money Monster” acts as a mirror, reflecting the modern culture that guides our world’s narrative. Hostage crises, acts of terror, mass murders – we are no longer impervious to the danger that precedes our every click, our every view, or our every anonymous written script.

Our lives are saturated with diluted language and concentrated visuals that last no longer than a second as the present quickly becomes the vilified past. Terror moves at an unimaginable rate. Much like time, it waits for no one, and much like desperation, it takes hold of everyone.



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