Directed by Jodie Foster. Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Giancarlo Esposito, Catriona Balfe.
THE PLOT: Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the presenter of Money Monster, a New York based TV show that tells potential investors just what they should do with their money. After Ibis Clear Capital – one of Gates’ tips – loses $800 million overnight, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), desperate and dangerous after losing all of his money, breaks into the studio and holds Gates hostage with the demand of finding out just where his money went.
THE VERDICT: Jodie Foster returns to Cannes as director with her new film ‘Money Monster’. The story is told in real time, with Clooney, O’Connell and Julia Roberts – who plays Gates’ producer Patty – at the top of their game.
George Clooney leads the show here as the egocentric, loud but charming Lee Gates, and as usual, Clooney is on fantastic form as he runs the gamut of emotion throughout the course of the film. We both love and hate Gates, and this shows Clooney’s skills of to their best. Jack O’Connell makes Kyle the heart and soul of the film; even though his actions are violent and threatening, O’Connell makes it clear that this is a man who is at the end of his tether, and as we learn more about Kyle, O’Connell makes him a fully rounded and sympathetic character. Julia Roberts is whip smart as Patty, and her rapport with George Clooney is wonderful to watch on screen. The rest of the cast features Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito and our own Catriona Balfe as Diane Lester, a PR agent for Ibis Clear Capital who begins to dig deeper.
Screenwriters Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf have created a story that is just grounded in reality enough to be believable, but far fetched enough to be ridiculous, gripping and wildly entertaining. Logically, enough holes could be picked in ‘Money Monster’ to fill the Albert Hall, but disbelief needs to be suspended high for this film to work, but when it works, it really works. The film is well written, with the screenplay turning expectations on their heads, and pleas for help that would have worked in any other film being routinely flipped with expectations subverted.
Jodie Foster paces ‘Money Monster’ incredibly well, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the entire film. As mentioned, expectations are turned on their heads throughout the film, and Foster allows tension to build and dissipate at the precise right time to keep the audience engaged. The three lead actors are strong in their roles, easily owning the story of the film, and keeping the audience empathy with them. There are times when the pacing falters, but Foster quickly rectifies this each time, before the issue spreads throughout the film.
In all, ‘Money Monster’ is a fun, far-fetched and engaging thriller that is driven by the characters and the choices they make. Foster does well as director and the three leads are on top form, but the pacing struggles from time to time. ‘Money Monster’ is not a film to be thought about too deeply, but is an engaging thrill ride.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Cannes Review - Money Monster
Review by Brogen Hayes
4.0A thrill ride
  • filmbuff2011

    Money Monster is Jodie Foster’s fourth turn at directing. Little Man Tate, Home For The Holidays and The Beaver were all interesting films, but she really hits her stride with Money Monster.

    Lee (George Clooney) is a financial guru who fronts a bombastic Wall Street stock market advice show called Money Monster. Patty (Julia Roberts) gives him direction from the control room when required, but he pretty much runs the show. That is, until investor Kyle (Jack O’Connell) walks onto his live show with a gun and takes him hostage on air. Ordering Lee to strap himself into a bomb-loaded vest, Kyle demands answers about a hot stock tip that couldn’t possibly fail – but it did. Kyle lost nearly everything on Lee’s advice and is looking for revenge from the very people who literally swim in money, while all he has is a hole where his swimming pool used to be. Lee tries to get answers from the company involved, IBIS, and its PR spokeswoman Diane (Caitriona Balfe). But to get to the bottom if it, Kyle and Lee will have to confront the real money monster of the piece: missing IBIS CEO Walt (Dominic West)…

    With Money Monster, Foster was clearly taking notes on the set of Spike Lee’s Inside Man. She’s captured that same level of hostage-situation excitement, mixed in with New York humour. She also gives it her own unique twist – a healthy dose of right-now realism. Given the financial crash and subsequent crisis of 2008, the film still feels relevant as we’re still recovering from its after-affects. Another influence is Sidney Lumet’s 70s classic Dog Day Afternoon (arguably Al Pacino’s finest hour). Here, Foster also brings in an everyman who the audience can relate with as he seeks an answer to a truth that is often conveniently covered over by the mystique of the financial world.

    Having worked with Angelina Jolie recently, rising star O’Connell is clearly gaining traction among Hollywood’s top directors, especially if they’re women. He brings a quiet desperation and righteous anger at the way he’s been cheated, while also making him not the smartest cookie in the packet. In one scene, which won’t be spoiled here, we see him being stripped down to size by the most unlikely person. It’s a welcome dose of New York humour which makes the absurdity of the situation all the more real – and tragic too. Clooney and Roberts are reliable as ever, looking nervous throughout as to whether their characters’ show is about to blow up live on TV. Foster’s direction is strong throughout, maintaining the pace of a ticking time-bomb. Money Monster is certainly good enough to stand up there in the same class with Dog Day Afternoon and Inside Man and is Foster’s best film yet. Money Monster is a very safe investment. ****

  • emerb

    Jodie Foster brings us a superbly entertaining and very clever thriller, “Money Monster , a highly topical movie worth seeing. Since the financial crash in 2008, many movies have been made which aim to expose the fraud and the greed of those at the top. While this movie is similar in theme to many we have already seen, it changes the focus to a small investor who has lost all his live savings by investing in one particular stock. He is determined to get a proper explanation as to what went wrong and is driven to desperate measures. What I really liked was
    that, not only is “Money Monster” a tautly gripping thriller, it is also a look at the high tech world of investment practices and how quickly the public and the media will jump on a story and then dismiss it as soon as it has run its course.

    George Clooney is in top form, starring as the smarmy, dazzling cable TV personality and fast-talking financial guru, Lee Gates. He dishes out stock tips to his gullible audience with dance routines, props, puns, flashy graphics, backup dancers and sound effects. He’s a money entertainer, with an unpredictable and wacky show called “Money Monster,” but people actually listen to him. Lee’s director is Patty Fenn (an impressive Julia Roberts) who struggles to keep him to
    script but rarely loses her patience and he actually listens to her. Just about to start another live programme, she sees a delivery guy lurking near the set just as the music begins. She thinks Lee is just pulling another stunt while Lee thinks it’s a gag sprung by the crew. Even after the guy pulls out a gun, everyone thinks it’s a prop, until he squeezes the trigger and fires a bullet into the ceiling. On live tv, he forces Lee into a vest laced with explosives. With his thumb on the detonator, the man later identified as Kyle Budwell (an outstanding Jack O’Connell) claims a stock tip Lee offered cost his life savings. Lee doesn’t even remember offering the advice but Kyle warns that it might cost Lee his life if he doesn’t get some answers about why the IBIS corporation (in which he invested) collapsed. Meanwhile, Patty can’t cut the feed because Kyle has a mobile phone and he can see the programme in real time and he’ll know if they pull any
    tricks. Apparently, following a crash in the company’s stock price, $800 million vanished due to a “glitch”. Kyle demands accountability, not only from Lee Gates, but also IBIS CEO, Walt Camby (a very sleazy Dominic Cooper), who can’t be located on any of his fleet of private jets. The main part of the 98 minute movie is spent on the set with Lee trying to stall and calm the ranting Kyle but at no time does the action let up and it never feels slow. Things are constantly happening and there are a few clever twists as we reach a tense and nail-biting climax.

    “Money Monster” is an entertaining ride from started to finish, buoyed by the star power of George Clooney, Julia Roberts and a standout performance from the perfectly cast Jack O’Connell. He gave a fine performance in “Unbroken” but here he goes even further and shows us some real talent. Jodie Foster’s direction is top class, she keeps the pace moving briskly and draws uniformly winning performances from the entire cast, including Irish actress Caitriona Balfe who is great as the IBIS PR lady who is left trying to explain the actions of her CEO/lover Walt Camby. We are also kept engaged by the pervading sense of urgency as the action is frequently cutting from the various locations – the set,
    the booth, the police, the public’s reaction to what is unfolding on live tv and the offices of IBIS. The release of this film could not be more perfectly timed as the world watches as the big guys in the finance world are being rocked by one fraud scandal after the next and few are made pay for their crimes. You would be well advised to invest your time in this smart, steady and suspenseful movie. It stands out in a season dominated by superheroes, fantasy and vulgar comedies. Highly recommended.