All The Money In The World – Review

This is the second film of 2018 that I’ve seen at the Pictures and bizarrely, both have featured Michelle Williams, the other being The Greatest Showman.

All The Money In The World is a dramatisation of a real life kidnap case involving the family of oil baron John Paul Getty II who at that time was the richest man in the world.  Some say the richest of all time until the 1970’s but are they aware of Musa of Mali who devalued gold?

Not being alive when the abduction took place and not being particularly interested in the lives of the mega-rich, I went into this film with only a familiarity of the Getty name and some vague memory that one of them had been kidnapped and that was it.

I always enjoy serious drama films and was all ready looking forward to it from seeing the advertising in the summer featuring the disgraced Kevin Spacey whose scenes were reshot at immense expense and in just a few days with Christopher Plummer taking over the role.  Having seen the trailers with both actors, I don’t doubt that Plummer is infitely more suited to the role.

What the film comes down to is in the cold light of day, how much is any one of us actually worth?  Our loved ones might think of us as being priceless but aside from the natural belief that many have that all life is sacred, in reality. that isn’t the case.  Would a neighbour 25 houses from me notice one way or the other if I wasn’t here?  Unless he read my blog then he probably wouldn’t.   Would I want to pay £10,000 or dollars to help a stranger on the other side of the planet?  Not necessarily.

When the grandson of billionaire Getty is held for ransom in Italy, it isn’t merely the fact that Getty knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.  He takes on the very pragmatic if cold belief that if he paid out the $17 million ransom money for this boy then he would likely be finding his other 14 grandchildren would also become targets for criminals and he would end up losing a large if affordable fortune.

I really liked this film in every way.  Christopher Plummer is astounding in it and though not to the limits his character takes it, I find him endearing.  He has been let down by his son who is a loser, he worked hard for what he got and the way he washes and dries his own clothing in the hotel room rather than spend a few pennies on room service is exactly what I would do.  I also liked how saw everything in the world as a commodity with a price and that the only things he could rely on were his artworks and possessions.   It was also very sad because one way or the other, that was all he had left.

Michelle Williams puts in a great performance as the kidnapped boys mother and the character is admirable for her integrity and determination.  It’s interesting also that some of the subtext of the film isn’t about her regaining her son, but her ongoing battle with her former father in law.  I also loved the locations and rich depth of the Getty universe.  I’m not sure how authentic it is but I liked the portayal by Giuseppe Bonifati of the most roundly developed kidnapper, Giovanni Iacovoni.  You got a strong sense that he got in way over his head and that his common human decency came out.

I did predict every plot twist and turn right up to the end which was surpising and a little disappointing but I put that down to my writers mind rather than any shortcoming with the film and there were moments that were truly horrifying and I don’t mean when at a press conference and Getty is asked how much would he pay, the answer with a smile was nothing.

Later in the film we learn that he loved the boy very much but also that for tax reasons, he wasn’t allowed to spend any of his money making everyone wonder what exactly the point of it was?  There were some moments of wisdom though such as Getty’s revelation that any idiot can get rich but the trick was to be rich.  Also that everything on Earth has a price, the problem is ascertaining what that price is.

The 1970’s world also comes through authentically in everything from the cars, furniture and clothing which adds quite a bit to the film.

It is almost seemless but one thing I notice no newspaper review has spotted is that all of the original scenes that remain in the film that took place in and around Hatfield House (somewhere I know well from my tours) which was used in this film for Getty’s English estate are in bright summer sunshine.  All of the re-shot films are in a very dreary and overcast winter skies.

This brings me to two very boring Hollywood London stereotypes.  The film has many scenes with damp roads and cars and yet never seemingly it is never raining, yet in reality the London annual rainfall is almost identical to Rome and much less than Paris, New York and many American cities with no reputation for rain!
Whilst I’m at it about filming in London.  Why does every film set in London have to have the bongs of Big Ben sounding as an establishment that we are in London.  London is 611 miles or 1,572km squared.  Most Londoners go months or years without ever hearing Big Ben.  Does everyone in New York hear the bells of St Patricks Cathedral for example?  I watched every episode of Friends several times and yet never heard the bells there!
Christopher Plummer as John Paul Getty II

Christopher Plummer as John Paul Getty II

Below are some interesting quotes from All The Money In The World.

To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing. I know that because my grandfather told me. You see, my grandfather wasn’t the richest man in the world, he was the richest man in the history of the world.”- Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer)

“If you can count your money, you’re not a billionaire.”- J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer)

“Paul is safe, but it will cost 17 million to release him.”- the Kidnappers to Gail Harris (Michelle Williams)

“We’re not poor. We’re broke. There’s a difference.”- Gail

“Priceless? I deplore that word. Dirty and old? I have no problem. . .”- J. Paul Getty

“Everything has a price. The great struggle in life is finding out that price.”- Getty

“You’re a Getty, Paul. A Getty is something special.”- Getty

“What’s your game?”- Getty
“I don’t want your money.”- Gail

“What would you pay for a grandson if not 17 million?”- Reporter
“Nothing.”- Getty

“If I took it off the wall do you think anybody would notice?” –Gail about a Vermeer

“I love all my grandchildren, but Paul is special.”- Getty

You need to pay the ransom, Mr. Getty. – Chase
I do not have the money to spare. – Getty
No one has ever been richer than you are at this moment. What would it take for you to feel secure? – Chase
More. – Getty

The mountain might not have come to Muhammed, but it sure as hell came to me – Getty

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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One Response to All The Money In The World – Review

  1. Pingback: 3 billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri | Stephen Liddell

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