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  • Gareth Crook

Gypsy Billionaire (2023) - 6/10

Full disclosure, I was involved in this production. Not much though, I just designed the titles. Aside that I don’t really know anything about the story, so this should still be impartial. Joel Van der Molen is a nice bloke though, as is Matt Routledge who shot this, so hopefully their direction and cinematography is up to scratch. Let’s see. The story centres around Alfie Best. It’s a self made rags to riches tale, as the title suggests, but that’s not to hook here. The reason Me Best has cause for some self aggrandising, is not only his idea to solve the housing crisis, but putting his money where his mouth is to implement it. Coming from the travelling community, it might seem a bit odd that he’s hatched this idea, but this is really well structured doc that takes you back to the beginning and helps the viewer understand as we’re lead through his life to date. The stigma of being a gypsy, ostracised in schools, “character building” from a young age, it’s clear that Best has a point to prove. Now it’s also clear he likes a spot of luxury now he’s ’made it’. Expensive superstars, massive mansion, a helicopter is described as “an essential tool” to manage a hundred odd parks around the country, which does feel a bit indulgent, but we’re told it’s the only way to travel as much as he does. These parks are his brainchild, affordable park homes in small communities dotted around the U.K. There’s a lot of them! So many that I’m thinking that the ones I’ve spotted when I’ve been out and about are probably his. There’s a lot more than just the parks though, but it’s all centred around people. Where they live, how they live, recreation. He’s clearly driven. I think he’d drive me bonkers though. He’s pretty intense and fond of blowing his own trumpet. He’s all over this, being interviewed, followed by cameras around the businesses. There are other voices, one stating “I don’t how the hell he did it, it’s a mystery, an enigma”. This doc doesn’t really answer that question, other than he’s a workaholic and obsessed with money, the suggestion that it’s been a natural progression building businesses, buying others, all over a 20 year period. This is an interesting film. Yes I’ve an issue with the flippant negativity toward education, there’s a few unlikable characters on screen, not least Nigel Farage and I could do with fewer shots of Aston Martin’s but as a documentary it works well. It tells you about a person and world you knew nothing of.



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