Nonton Generation Wealth (2018).Over the past 25 years, Lauren Greenfield’s documentary photography and film projects have explored youth culture, gender, body image, and affluence. In this fascinating meld of career retrospective and film essay, Greenfield offers a meditation on her extensive body of work, structuring it through the lens of materialism and its increasing sway on culture and society in America and throughout the world. Underscoring the ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, her portraits reveal a focus on cultivating image over substance, where subjects unable to attain actual wealth instead settle for its trappings, no matter their ability to pay for it.
Generation Wealth was selected to be the opening night film at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary Premiere program. The film received its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (aka Berlinale 68), where it was featured in the Panorama program. Other festivals include SXSW and CPH:DOX. The film was distributed by Amazon Studios and released in theaters on July 20, 2018.
Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com wrote that the film was “a stunningly deeply resonant documentary about notions as seemingly obvious as the value of love over wealth itself.” Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times wrote, “Darting from micro to macro and back again, squashing obscene consumption against child beauty pageants and ruinous debt, its structure makes for an unfocused thesis,” adding that “the through line… works.” Joseph Walsh of Time Out gave it four out of five stars, writing that the film “lays bare society’s obsession with affluence and excess with scalpel-sharp insight” and “makes for bleak and compelling viewing.”
The film was nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 45% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 5.82/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Generation Wealth has admirable aims, but never manages to focus long enough to put together the type of cogent argument made by director Lauren Greenfield’s earlier works.”