Published: 04 November 2010
by DAN CARRIER
NEW Yorkers Leo and Ellen inhabit the type of world we all supposedly aspire to. It’s as if they have stepped gracefully out of the pages of a Sunday colour supplement feature.
Bags of money flow in from Ellen’s stressful yet socially grand job as a surgeon in an accident and emergency department, saving the lives of poor people whose bodies, if this film is to be believed, are under constant threat from sharp things wielded by family members, neighbours, and strangers from the hood.
Handsome hubby Leo has managed to turn his computer game nerd streak into a winning formula to set up a website for similar oiks, and now jets around the world fashioning mega-bucks deals.
But as this film is about the family unit in a time of globalisation, all is not well in this rosy world.
The pair don’t get to hang out with one another, nor with their seven-year-old daughter, who instead has a primary carer in the shape of a Filipino au pair – who in turn misses her own two sons, who live back home on their Pacific isle and rely on the wages she sends to them each month.
It is a riff on the impact of globalisation. It is a simple concept but sometimes, I suppose, the obvious needs reiterating: namely, rich people exploit poor people, and being loaded doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
It could work, but sadly doesn’t. It looks good, but it is story telling by numbers, with no subtlety.
It would help if you felt some kind of empathy with the two leads, but they have made lifestyle choices that make them miserable. You want to knock their heads together and say stop moaning and sort it out!
They are well observed by actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams, but that makes them more annoying. I’d hate to be stuck next to them at one of their trendy dinner parties in their neat and tidy houses.
You can’t help but think if they are too stupid to figure out that working too hard whilst letting an au pair bring up their daughter is a recipe for a miserable and empty existence, then that is their problem.
Do we have to watch a film stating it?