Rome, 1973. Masked men kidnap a teenage boy named John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). His grandfather, Jean Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), is the richest human in the world, a billionaire oil magnate, but he's notoriously miserly. His favorite grandson's abduction is not reason enough for him to part with any of his fortune. All the Money in the World (2017) follows Gail, (Michelle Williams), Paul's devoted, strong-willed mother, who unlike Getty, has consistently chosen her children over his fortune. Her son's life in the balance with time running out, she attempts to sway Getty even as her son's mob captors become increasingly more determined, volatile and brutal. When Getty sends his enigmatic security man Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg) to look after his interests, he and Gail become unlikely allies in this race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money..Written by
When J. Paul Getty is being interviewed by Playboy magazine, Getty is sitting opposite the interviewer and is fondling a dog that's sitting to Getty's right. When the camera switches back to the interviewer while they're still talking, we see the dog in the foreground moving around in front of Getty. When the camera switches back to Getty, without any break in the conversation, the dog magically appears once again at Getty's right-hand side. See more »
J. Paul Getty:
When a man gets wealthy, he has to deal with the problems of freedom. All the choices he could possibly want. An abyss opens up. Well, I watched that abyss. I watched it ruin men, marriages, but most of all, it ruins the children.
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Get the Getty story and an Oscar-worthy performance at the same time.
"A Getty is special. A Getty is nobody's friend." J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer)
If Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World does anything well, it shows the banality of crime and wealth, at least as this abduction/ransom motif plays out. It's the story inspired by the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in 1973, his grandfather's resistance to paying the Italian Red Brigade's ransom demand, and the heroic effort of his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), to bring her son back alive.
After slogging through the tepid back story (disjointed to say the least), the story gains strength through the passions of its leading players, both of whom have strong feelings about the right way to respond to the kidnappers' demand for $17 million ransom. Mom would pay, considering grandpa is the richest man who ever lived, and he does not in principle want to capitulate.
Yet he may also have reasons to deny the ransom, one that paying would open floodgates of abductions for his other grandchildren and a point made later on but nonetheless fascinating history about the nature of the Getty fortune. Regardless, the central conflict of the story is not the kidnapping but the struggle between patriarch and daughter-in-law for the soul of the family and the deliverance of III.
Although the cross editing between home and kidnappers is sometimes jarring, the director makes the audience feel as if it's present at the contentious proceedings. Trying to understand why the old man resists the ransom is a most difficult situation for parents who couldn't possibly do anything other than pay, but the audience can witness the arguments as if right there among the players.
Coldness pervades this film, as if Scott were able to let the audience feel the lack of warmth from the old man's. Several scenes show him in front of large fireplaces, evoking a Citizen Kane ambience. Getty echoes the self-centered, aloof, lonely Charles Foster Kane.
For the history and the acting, All the Money in the World is worth enjoying this season. Williams plays a resolute and resourceful mother and Plummer infuses the Scrooge-like Getty with a humanity that feels like we are with the real tycoon.
The film is also a cautionary tale about the corruption of wealth and the tenuous familial relations when money is the major player. See it and be happy with your small fortune, which may be, I hope, your loved ones.
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