Movie Review: All the Money in the World (2017)
Quote from All the Money in the World by John Paul Getty III: “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing. My grandfather wasn’t just the richest man in the world, he was the richest man in the history of the world. We look like you, but we’re not like you. It’s like we’re from another planet where the force of gravity is so strong it bends the light. It bends people too.”
Things Change When the Hat Drops
Aside from all the Hollywood drama with the casting and pay, this movie rocked it in every sense of the word. I was a little disappointed initially when Kevin Spacey was dropped, as I was looking forward to seeing how he would portray J. Paul Getty. While Christopher Plummer has more of the facial structure to match the miserly grandfather, I too sometimes get comfortable with the original choice. I’ve always admired Plummer, but as I watched the movie unfold, I became even more amazed at how well he embodied Getty. There’s a lot of good actors/actresses out there that excel in certain genres and characters. There’s lesser performances done by actors/actresses where you can watch someone from start to finish without the internal dialogue of “hey, yeah, that’s so and so.” Even though it was recognizable as Plummer’s voice, it felt I wasn’t listening to him, and that is the genius of someone who has earned his due rightfully in Hollywood.
The bottom line is there was a reason Spacey and Plummer were the top picks for this role. There needs to be an equal nod to Michelle Williams for her role as John Paul Getty III’s mother. She encompassed Gail Harris to the sharpest detail: her accent, facial expressions, other mannerisms, and interaction with Getty family members. You were allowed to get lost in her quest to protect her son and share in her resolve to take no for an answer. She definitely taught viewers how to be strong when it counts the most. J. Paul Getty viewed his family from where he stood: a different plane, high up, and at a sharp angle. Yet, he was fiercely loyal, even though much of it seemed created in his own mind, even up to the very end. The Getty’s have remained a vital part of California with The Getty Center and Villa. So yes, the Getty name does mean something, and there’s no denying J. Paul Getty’s legacy will continue.
People that Made it Happen
All the Money in the World, an Imperative Entertainment, RedRum Films, Scott Free Productions, and TriStar Productions, was directed by Ridley Scott. He’s also known for directing the hit movies of Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, Alien, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Blade Runner. In addition to Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams’ great performances, there are solid ones by Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, and Charlie Plummer (I wonder how many times he’s told people he’s not related to Christopher Plummer). The MMPA rating is R for language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content. The running time is 2 hours and 12 minutes. The movie is an adaptation from the book, written by John Pearson, with the same name. The story delves into the life of the Getty family, focusing on the genesis and evolution of J. Paul Getty, and how it relates to the life altering experiences his grandson, often referred to as Paolo and Paul in the movie, is thrust into because of his famous last name.
The Characters and Plot Summary
This movie followed the premise of starting with a bang and ending with a bigger one (as much as is possible for not being an action movie). It started with John Paul Getty III, which I will refer to as Paul from now on, being a carefree teenager in Rome. Never worried in his surroundings, he has followed in his father’s footsteps, enjoying freedom of nightlife. He receives a jarring “welcome to life” moment when he is kidnapped and finds out not everyone is living a charmed life or wants to be his friend. While he is held captive for six months, he writes letters to his mother as instructed by his captors. He consistently shows bravery with the demands placed on him. Being one of his grandfather’s favorite grandchildren, Paul remains hopeful he will come out of this unscathed. This is not lost on his mother either, Gail, who uses this to pressure J. Paul Getty to use his money in exchange for her son’s safe return.
The movie continues, focusing on the power struggle between right and wrong, in the viewpoints of the miserly grandfather and the hell hath no fury mother. She can’t do it all alone because J. Paul Getty trusts no one and only lets few into his inner circle. This is where Fletcher Chase, played by Mark Wahlberg, lends his assistance to Gail as she works to reach a deal with the kidnappers. He is the buffer between Gail and Grandfather Getty, and walks a tightrope between the two for much of the movie. Chase becomes the only source of comfort when the situation becomes the darkest of darks for Gail, and when hope seems to be getting farther within her grasp. Her drug addicted husband comes back into her life, ever briefly, to assert his silent power. It is a powerful scene because you can see the turmoil within everyone seated at the table. The saga comes to an end with suspense much in the vein of something you might see in a film noir movie. This story is about wealth and the fear of losing it as much as it is about dependence and independence from one’s family.
Be Prepared to Watch Something Great
I was excited about this movie when I first saw the trailer. I’m still excited about this movie now that I’ve seen it. I kept in mind the dysfunction, almost inherent in the Getty name, because money often corrupts people. It pulled most everyone in different directions, ranging from the kidnappers to the Getty family members. There was a slight twinge of sorrow for J. Paul Getty, but it didn’t last long. There was a reason he spent more time on his profits than his family. His marriage to his money was most important, and I can’t say enough positive things about how Christopher Plummer embodied this crucial part. The ending scenes with the newspapers and painting could not have been effective with a less seasoned actor. Some of the best scenes were between Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer, and only heightened because the characters were polar opposites. Yet, each desired similar things, both hinging on the preservation of the Getty name. The scenes between Michelle Williams and Romain Duris were also solid. There is no doubt All the Money in the World allowed a glimpse into the life of the Getty family, taking away that money can bend people either way, especially depending on where you stand in relation to J. Paul Getty.
This movie targeted primarily adults, especially those interested in family drama, although I did see a five-year old in the theater. This is a straightforward story without much actual surprise, and yet it kept my attention throughout the whole movie. This is a tried and true biopic drama. Despite it having a slower pace, and while the actual events played out in 1973, the movie was able to provide a newness. There could have been a little more closure between the grandfather and grandson at the end, but I still recommend it for all the listed above. I was looking for a listing of how each person evolved after 1973 when the movie ended so I included one below. The family has been riddled with drug addiction and divorce, but this just isn’t a Getty issue. I end with a flashback of me reading my Seventeen magazine in middle school. There was a picture of a young Milla Jovovich with her friend, from what I remember he was listed as Balty, in several teeny bob poses. I then saw Balthazar Getty in Lord of the Flies. So yes, the Getty’s tend to be everywhere.
The Getty Family
George Getty is the father of J. Paul Getty. He lived from 1885 to 1930.
J. Paul Getty is the father of five sons. He lived from 1892 to 1976. He is portrayed by Christopher Plummer.
- George Getty II lived from 1924 to 1973. He has three daughters.
- Jean Ronald Getty lived from 1929 to 2009. He has one son and three daughters.
- Sir John Paul Getty/John Paul Getty II (born Eugene Paul Getty) lived from 1932 to 2003. He was the estranged son in the movie. He is portrayed by Andrew Buchan. He had two sons and three daughters. One son was named John Paul Getty III. He is portrayed by Charlie Plummer. John Paul Getty III lived from 1956 to 2011. John Paul Getty III has six children including Balthazar Getty. Balthazar was born in 1975 and has one son and three daughters.
- Gordon Getty was born in 1934 and still living. He has four sons and three daughters.
- Timothy Ware Getty lived from 1946 to 1958. He had no children.
I surprisingly could not find much about Abigail Harris Getty. She is portrayed by Michelle Williams. She remains a little elusive, which is probably the way she wants it.
If you’re a little heartbroken, don’t be. Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy is currently filming a show for FX, Trust, based on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Donald Sutherland is J. Paul Getty, Harris Dickinson is John Paul Getty III, and Hilary Swank is Gail Getty. This should be interesting.
Pisaries Creator’s Rating
I rate All the Money in the World a rating of four fingers at 90%.
All the Money in the World Trailer/One Sheets by Sony Pictures
Balthazar Getty Photo by Seventeen
Lord of the Flies One Sheet by MGM