Generation Wealth review: Lauren Greenfield follows up The Queen Of Versailles with this engrossing companion piece, playing at the 2018 Sundance London film festival.

Generation Wealth review by Paul Heath.

Generation Wealth review
Generation Wealth review

Seasoned photographer Lauren Greenfield takes a trip into the past and her 25 years of experience photographing the world’s most wealthy in this enthralling feature documentary that acts as something of a companion piece to her celebrated Queen Of Versailles picture from a few years ago.

Greenfield examines the rise of consumer capitalism and the human race’s strive for inflated personal financial condition in Generation Wealth, teaming talking head interviews with previous subjects of her vast photographic archive, and on-location fly-on-the-wall style film making. As well as an examination of wealth, the film also touches addiction – whether that be of one’s body, their constant want of more in terms of financial wealth, or even celebrity and its influence on modern society.

Expertly crafted visually -what more would you expect from a filmmaker with a three-decade-long photographic background – Generation Wealth enthrals from the start. The nature of its assembly – the piece has an unrelenting full-scale, sometimes distracting score – may not be for all, but its subject matter is not hard for anyone to relate to on a personal level in some way.

For such a film showcasing the effects of vanity and how ugly it is, it’s hard not to take a step back and look in the mirror for reflection after viewing it, something the director even stops to do personally two-thirds into the piece herself. She interviews her own mother and father, and indeed two young sons, though what is absent is insight from her husband, clearly a massively important, stable part of Greenfield’s life. I would have liked to have heard from him.

Today’s harsh reality of keeping up with your neighbours – or those who share your social media space – is intricately examined, as is what is really important in life, and how we all may have lost sight of it in terms of our own thinking somewhere along the way.

The sections of the documentary when Greenfield revisits subjects of her photographs at a very prestigious Los Angeles high-school over two decades from when she snapped them are a particular stand-out. To discover where they have ended up in life is interesting – one, a body-perfect teenager who now lives her life off the grid in rural America, the richness of her life now seemingly coming from a different source, while we also meet the guy who had a relationship with her – still larking amongst a group of friends who seemingly haven’t changed over the course of the time at all.

A very relevant film for our time and one very worthy of yours.

Generation Wealth review by Paul Heath, May 2018.

Generation Wealth was reviewed at the 2018 Sundance London film festival.

Generation Wealth