Heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire, 23-year-old director Jamie Johnson probably has as much access as anyone could to the "Born Rich" -- here, his own circle of young friends, united by inherited wealth and privilege.

Heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire, 23-year-old director Jamie Johnson probably has as much access as anyone could to the “Born Rich” — here, his own circle of young friends, united by inherited wealth and privilege. Probing experience of this true “minority” is a fascinating idea only partly satisfied by a docu that sports limited insight and a vanity-project tinge. Curio will be best suited to fluff “lifestyle” cable slots.

Viewing his divorced father as proof that shame over unearned personal wealth leads to unhappiness, helmer sets out to confront uppermost-class identity through interviews with peers. Many are reluctant — most notably big-chip-on-shoulder’d Luke Weil, who eventually sues Johnson for defamation. Some intriguing snippets emerge, like the necessity of pre-nuptial agreements drummed into subjects’ heads early on. But most glimpses are superficial — or perhaps capture lives that simply are superficial, defined by designer-clothing shopaholism, neurosis, vanity, snobbism, and/or defensive self-pity. None show any social consciousness, unless you count fretting what “other people” might think of them is sooo unfair. Johnson’s decision to put himself onscreen in earnest, slickly TV-lit sequences tends to make pic itself seem like a trust-fund indulgence.

Born Rich

Production

A Wise and Good Film production. Produced by Jamie Johnson, Nick Kurzon, Dirk Wittenborn. Co-producer, Bingo Gubelman. Directed by Jamie Johnson.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Nick Kurzon; editors, Steve Pilgrim, Jason Zemlicka, Kurzon; music, Joel Goodman. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (American Spectrum), Jan. 21, 2003. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Georgina Bloomberg, Ivana Trump, Si Newhouse IV, Juliet Hartford, Carlo von Zeitschel, Stephanie Ercklentz, Christina Floyd, Josiah Hornblower, Cody Franchetti, Luke Weil.
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