How responsible are we for one another as we attempt to engage with our listeners, inspire others around us, lead by example, take risks to succeed, decide what is right or wrong and achieve as best we can while we continue to grow as a society and as individuals.
Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is an American television producer who has founded Money Monster the television show, alongside experienced money man and her network star Lee Gates (George Clooney).
Up until one particular day as he is about to go on air the handsome host of their high rating television show has seemingly never really had his person or his integrity threatened, his word really doubted or his actions questioned. Well at least as far as we know.
Gates lives in a world where ‘hype’ is part of his daily experience.
She’s kept busy once they are ‘live’ co-ordinating the crew who help her put their show to air successfully from her back stage out of sight booth.
We first meet Lee and producer Patty as she discovers he has made changes to her script for the show ahead, only telling her just as they are about to go to air.
What it means in reality is there is no time left for her to know what he has in mind until it happens. Now Patty we soon realize is used to Gates going completely off script, just like a naughty schoolboy.
He’s always taking advantage of her kind ‘mothering’ and loving nature by exceeding all boundaries, which is partly why their show earns big ratings. They are both very clever at ‘making it up’ as they go along and those able to innovate instantly as they do, can be enormously charismatic and very captivating for those observing their interaction with each other.
On the other hand that interaction can also be a recipe for disaster too. Those on the outside looking in often don’t know or understand the complete range of the two people’s concerned dynamics and where the personal and professional aspects of their characters and the line between them starts and ends.
What would happen if Patty found herself suddenly and solely responsible for the lives of everyone working under her direction’s safety? Would she be really prepared for the consequences that might arise out of her actions?
Well, just like the rest of us Patty doesn’t really know that answer until she is tested and such a scenario is actually happening.
She suddenly and unexpectedly finds herself in a position of having to make an instant decision to include an unknown unscripted young man’s arrival on set carrying two boxes. His intrusion she decides must seem like part of the show, at least until she can work out what is really going down.
Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) the young man in question has remained virtually unchallenged (which seems a bit of a stretch) walking straight past a guard or two on the ‘stage’ door onto the set of a major television studio where he intends to take Lee Gates hostage.
Kyle has lost all his money on the stock market; one minute it’s there, the next it is gone. He wants to know why there is no redress for the investor. While he believes he was taking a calculated risk, in his mind if the host of a huge television show around the country indicates that his investment is safe, why would he not take him at his word?
Likewise the network bosses the host would understand his moral and social responsibilities and obligations too? Right?
At first the camera crew like Patty are completely bewildered about what is really happening and they just keep rolling along as they are used to doing without question.
That is until the moment the young man produces a gun points it at Lee Gates head, saying he wants to talk about what has happened to him in defense of his actions.
Is this guy really for real?
Kyle Budwell has decided he will make Lee Gates personally responsible for the dilemma he finds himself in based on this so-called ‘wizard of Wall Street’s ‘good’ advice.
When the host objects, Kyle fires his gun in the air and at that point everyone discovers not only is the gun real but also they may just all be under the immediate threat of losing their lives. So is Patty equipped to hold it all together? Everyone relying on her certainly hopes so.
While all of this is going down the show remains live to air and Patty is hoping the authorities will not be long in arriving and not just think this is just another of Gates’s famous ‘stunts’. Is he the boy who has cried ‘wolf’ too much?
Everyone involved knows it is very serious especially when Kyle has Gates undo one of the boxes he was carrying and strap on a vest he has wired with a bomb to his person.
Suddenly everyone is relying on him to also keep his thumb at all times on the trigger in his hand and hope against hope that he doesn’t sneeze or trip over accidentally and let it off.
Patty by now must be realizing the $??? million dollars of liability insurance she carries as a producer may not nearly be enough to compensate victims if everyone else in her team cannot handle the situation and follow her directions.
Interestingly for a young man Kyle doesn’t seem to understand about earwigs (another stretch for me); a contemporary communication device. Doesn’t he watch NCIS like most of America?
Producer Patty knows she will only have a slight advantage until the young man ‘terrorising’ Gates finds out, and so she quickly sends as many people as she can scurrying from the studio to safety.
She will have to work harder than ever before as she endeavours to keep the rest of her crew safe and her host alive by becoming the cool voice of calm and reason in her star’s head until help arrives.
Suddenly from being the warm and fuzzy person everyone loves, Patty finds herself in a very cold place basically on her own, except for a loyal skeleton crew who remain.
With its underlying theme of morality, Money Monster is a lesson on how in business we cannot simply seek to separate ourselves from the society in which we live and its moral and social obligations affected by the results of our actions.
Television series Outlander’s star Caitriona Balfe plays the steely publicist spokeswoman for the fictional financial firm Ibis Clear Capital that has caused Kyle to lose his funds.
She’s in many ways naive, believing in the business principles of the company she works for without question until she discovers its executive her much admired boss, lover and CEO, played by English actor Dominic West, are not playing it fair at all.
She then becomes righteous and quietly determined to uncover the truth as it goes to her own integrity.
Being a man in his mid 50’s Lee Gates was more than likely given a summary of fundamental principles to live by in his youth. At that time religion provided a value framework in which to encounter societal concerns, moral and otherwise and learn what was and was not acceptable via the Ten Commandments.
Gates is likely to believe they are, on a daily basis as important to the whole of society as they are to a ‘good Catholic boy’ and not only apply universally but also happily across changing circumstances.
They taught generations that our moral obligation in community arises out of a sense of duty from custom, from law, etc., to each other is also about sharing good times and bad, as well as love, hope and truth.
Many understood and commonly knew the greatest injury we could do to another person was murder, while the greatest injury in the fields of commerce and law would be to bear false witness against a neighbour, to covet his wife or to steal his property.
A great deal has happened since those days and the question is in this new age where religion is mistrusted how do we know what our indebtedness begins and ends? It’s hard to know where lines are drawn any more as boundaries continue to be expanded and lines crossed.
The ‘rules’ we all attempt to live our lives by need to be re-worked and changed in each separate situation as it develops, which is almost impossible.
For that to happen too we suddenly find we are totally reliant on each other once more, although many of us are ill equipped to work their way through a crisis emotionally.
Being up close and personal with others is difficult for many who are isolated by the unreal world they seem to live in and so as a result, instantly go into deep trauma as Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) does in Director Jodie Foster’s latest film Money Monster.
There is no doubt Roberts and Clooney have a definite ‘chemistry’ on screen, although I would have liked just a little more foreplay; as they set up their characters before all the action started.
So what about us the voyeurs on this event, do we feel sorry for Kyle or should we condemn him for gambling all of his money in the first place? How can anyone know what a ‘safe investment’ is today? Real estate seems unattainable for a majority used to land being ‘safe’.
Meanwhile in bars and places around the nation where people gather in front of their television sets, everyone is reacting to the unreality of what it is they are seeing on their television screens, at first believing it may be just a joke and responding accordingly.
Patty can only hope the Police and FBI agents are closing in on this terrible tragedy, for that is what it really is, while keeping it together as it all unfolds. Some people would perhaps consider Kyle, the character English actor Jack O’Connell a loser, that is until his pregnant girlfriend suddenly appears on air; they would assume she had been informed by the authorities to help talk him down. She has been told he has lost all the money left from his mother’s inheritance by investing it in a company on the stock exchange to secure their future.
However she gives this husband to be of the baby she is carrying a monumental pasting, which is both embarrassing and debilitating at the same time, especially when delivered in front of millions of people on national television. Seemingly all she cares about is the money.
Suddenly the tide changes, and everyone feels sorry for him. Why did Kyle’s ‘partner’ show no empathy or compassion at all for the man she reputedly ‘loves? What are the moral and social obligations we have to each other especially when we are supposed to be in a close and loving relationship?
Did Kyle deserve to be told off they are saying to themselves, perhaps putting themselves in his position struggling to survive. Gates does too and so he offers to help Kyle find out the answers to the question he is asking.
O’Connell’s traumatised performance as the villain or victim depending on how you look at it, in this contemporary comment on the downside, difficulties and moral dimension of the economic system we live by, is entirely believable. He is proving attractive to directors, who require not only his natural ability as an actor, but also his ‘down to earth quality’.
While his character is seemingly suffering from mental health issues, Kyle does not come across as dumb, just a young man in deep trauma.
This is a taught well-constructed drama the majority of the time, at least until Kyle and Gates emerge onto the street to go and meet the CEO of the company. They soon gather a huge crowd, many of whom are partying on thinking the whole situation is just a great game, not a real event at all and the last ten minutes for me just let the rest of it down.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
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