FILM NOTES: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

For 132 minutes I was totally absorbed in watching Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World. David Scarpa’s screenplay is strong and effective and is inspired by a true story.

If ever there was a tale to tell this was it was the first thought that popped in my head when the end credits rolled. And being uncommonly wealthy does not automatically translate into happiness and joy. Often extraordinary amounts of money shape and skew your thinking and behavior in an unhappy and miserable way is what I came away after watching the film.

All The Money In The World is about the extraordinarily rich and famous oilman John Getty (Christopher Plummer)  and the 1973 kidnapping of his grandson John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in Italy. At first they think the kidnapping is a hoax. Instead it turns out to be true and involves long and painful months of negotiation between the kidnappers and the Getty family. Gail Getty (Michelle Williams) tries to get the ransom money from her father-in-law, who famously refuses to pay it. The kidnappers mail a severed ear of the kidnapped Getty that finally propels Getty to fork out the ransom money. “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing,” says the grandson at the start of the film and after watching the film you realize how extraordinarily different they were. All the money in the world could not save the Getty family from this traumatic experience that left deep scars in the family. All the money in the world stultified Getty’s love for his first-born grandson.

There is almost a Shakespearean element in All The Money In The World with its tragic overtones and Christopher Plummer delivers in spades as the miserable, conflicted and cold John Getty, the only billionaire in the world in the 1970s. Getty was famous for his parsimonious ways and yet had one of the best art collections in the world. People change, but objects don’t was Getty’s justification. Plummer’s nuanced portrayal of a conflicted Getty is brilliant. I guess it should come as no surprise that Plummer was director Scott’s first choice, but that did not happen. Instead they chose Kevin Spacey to play the role. Six weeks before the release of the film Spacey’s sexual allegations surfaced and Scott decided to re-shoot the film with Plummer in the role of Getty senior. After watching the film you realize why Plummer was Scott’s first choice.

Plummer and Williams form the backbone of the film and their performances are strong. I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be.Charlie Plummer pulls off his role with great aplomb as John Paul Getty III. Mark Wahlberg’s performance in the film was clearly over-shadowed by Plummer, Williams and Plummer.

Special mention must be made of Academy Award winning editor Claire Simpson (Platoon, Wall Street, Far From The Madding Crowd, Constant Gardner). Simpson edited All The Money In The World and I am intensely curious to find out how she edited the film the second time around.

Films  have a way of kindling our curiosity and our library of thoughts. All The Money In The World certainly kindled my curiosity especially since the Getty family has such a strong San Francisco connection. Gail Getty and her husband Paul Getty-II grew up in San Francisco before embracing their globetrotting lifestyle. I went scurrying to read about the Getty family and  ended up reading Uncommon Youth: The Gilded Life and Tragic Times of J.Paul Getty III by Charles Fox. Next, I wanted to find out more about Christopher Plummer and his brilliant acting career. I searched and found a fascinating 90 minute long interview In Conversation With David Plummer by David Edelstein. I am currently reading Plummer’s In Spite of Myself: A Memoir.

I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be nominated.

All The Money In The World released on Dec 25, 2017 in the US.

 

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