All the Money in the World confirms our preconceived notions of Ridley Scott; he is a film maestro. Not only has he directed a captivating portrayal of the Getty kidnapping, but he has done so through incredible difficult creative circumstances, having reshot a large portion of the film within the space of two weeks.
Aida Vucic | 02/01/2018
All the Money in the World
The film is sure to generate interest given the circumstances surrounding it, but irrespective of these murmurings, the film stands strong. Telling the dramatised version of Paul Getty’s grandson’s kidnapping, and Getty’s refusal to part with his millions, All The Money in the World chronicles one of the most confusing contradictions in history; Paul Getty, who made his wealth by founding the Getty Oil Company, was at the time of his grandson’s kidnapping the richest man in the world, yet he refused to pay a ransom to negotiate his grandsons release. It’s his frugality and thirst for even more wealth that was so tastefully captured during the film, Along with Abigale Getty’s (played by Michelle Williams) sheer determination to have her son safely returned. Williams is on form, delivering a provocative depiction of a distressed mother up against the brutality of affluence.
All the Money in the World had all the makings of an award winning film, but following the stigma surrounding Kevin Spacey and the accusations against him, such accolades were in jeopardy. Fortunately, Scott was reluctant to accept defeat and assembled the crew to re-shoot the film. Whilst this may have been a gamble, it seems to have paid off with stellar performances from Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg and Christopher Plummer. Indeed, Plummer has already been nominated for a Golden Globe.
It’s safe to say the film has been more than salvaged. Plummer brings a twinkle to his endless proclamations on riches that gives more pathos to a character that would have been difficult to understand otherwise. He creates a compelling portrayal of the man; at once disaffected and compassionate. He fundamentally doesn’t understand the world that the rest of us live in. Plummer does such a good job that it is a palpable shame when he isn’t on screen.
There are elements of the reshoot that are clearly demonstrative of the short timeframe. Some of the green screen work around Christopher Plummer in the desert isn’t quite up to scratch, and occasionally legacy long shots of Spacey’s Getty are evident. But for the most part, from a technical and performance perspective, this is an achievement to echo down throughout the ages.
Wahlberg and Williams are also tremendous. There’s a beautiful unspoken bond between the two of them, best represented in a scene where Williams’ Abigale kicks of her shoes and walks in stockinged feet through her kitchen, as Wahlberg’s CIA man Fletcher Chase watches. It’s one of a number of small, subtle moments that convey intimacy without overtly exploring the relationship.
As a film, it’s also pretty well paced. Scott keeps it chugging along, and grounds it in the inevitable time constraints a hostage scenario like this has. As a director, they call him the ‘fastest draw in the west’, but in terms of his storytelling he never rushes to the conclusion. It’s well measured and fascinating, even if most characters are very broad stroke outlines.
While it certainly furthers our appreciation of Scott’s unrivalled ability and skill, our interest in the technical achievement may slightly outweigh our love for the film itself. All the Money in the World is moving and skilfully executed, but also pretty much exactly what you’ll expect. With the competition it will face in awards season, it may struggle to claim the final prize.