Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” is a middling movie with great ambitions that aren’t fully realized. The George Clooney-Julia Roberts effort which opens today in the US was shown in Cannes last to a lot of fanfare. But it’s a commercial studio film from Sony, and it was brought to Cannes to gain international marketing renown. Because you know, if “Money Monster” were going to be a big hit, Foster, Clooney and Roberts would have been all over the US media this week promoting it. Instead, they are here in Cannes.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting, or doesn’t have a couple of surprise performances of note from newcomers Jack O’Connell and Caitriona Balfe. It’s also great to see Giancarlo Esposito as the captain of the New York police.
But “Money Monster” doesn’t know if it’s anti-Wall Street or pro, and in its short 90 minutes the theme is abandoned and the movie becomes a thriller. The plot: a Jim Cramer like TV financial advisor played by Clooney is held hostage in his studio by O’Connell, who’s lost money on an investment Clooney touted. Roberts is Clooney’s TV producer. Much more we don’t learn about the characters — they are all surface, there to fill a purpose in the plot.
All the actors do their best but this is a talky movie. Roberts, I think, only stands up twice. Mostly she sits. (Contrast this with the way Helen Mirren moves around in “Eye in the Sky.”) Foster doesn’t have a great visual style– see “The Beaver”– and I’d rather have seen her act in a film anyway.
The cast (well the stars) hit the Cannes red carpet with a vengeance. Clooney was the only one to include a spouse– Amal — in the processional. Later the Clooneys skipped the big private dinner at Michelangelo in Antibes (set for 90 people) and went to dine at another locale with friends. Very weird. Roberts went barefoot on the red carpet because she thought she towered over Foster. (For days all I’ve heard around town are horror stories about her repellent publicist.)
Also on the red carpet: Vanessa Redgrave with son Carlo, famed director James Ivory, Julianne Moore, and the mayor of Cannes.
Only Balfe turned up for an after party at the Hotel du Cap bar, but there were plenty of other stars hobnobbing until the wee hours including Mick Jagger, Brett Ratner, Naomi Watts, and so on. Roberts and her very bearded husband, Danny Moder, sailed through the bar to their rooms at one point without stopping.
What will happen with “Money Monster”? The box office depends solely on Clooney and Roberts drawing an audience. There’s no love story, and no one to root for. These will be problems. But O’Connell, of them all, who we met in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” is going to soar after this.