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‘All The Money In The World’: A Movie Review

Posted by Himali Kothari in Culture-Vulture
February 1, 2018

One of my favourite perks of being a freelancer are the flexible hours. As Vivienne in “Pretty Woman” says (in a completely unrelated context) – “I say who, I say when.”

The flexibility of ‘when’ allows me to indulge in my love for movies at any time of the day. When I step over the threshold and into the dark cinema hall, the real world melts away and for a few hours, I inhabit a new world, where anything can happen.

The first film I watched in 2018 was “All The Money In The World“. Initially, it starred Kevin Spacey, but allegations of sexual abuse against him prompted director, Ridley Scott to cut him out of the film and re-shoot it with Christopher Plummer. The movie is based on the true life incident of the kidnapping of Jean Paul Getty III, who was he grandson of the American business tycoon Jean Paul Getty. Named the world’s richest private citizen in the 1966 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, he was also renowned for his extreme frugal nature. From installing a pay phone in his house for the use of visitors to chastising his wife for ‘spending freely’ on the treatment of their son blinded by a brain tumour, he wears his stinginess on his sleeve.

The movie’s narrative starts at the boy’s kidnapping and then weaves through the months that his mother spends negotiating with kidnappers and pleading with Getty Sr for the ransom money to free her son. The story-line also flashes back to establish the stingy character of Getty Sr and his relationship with his son and his son’s family.

The movie has some brilliant moments. A particularly uncomfortable one is the scene where Getty Sr enters a room with a large briefcase in hand. Hope blossoms for a moment, maybe this is the moment when a grandfather emerges out of the shrewd businessman. But that is not the case. He is there to invest a few millions on a rare painting.

I believe that the film stays true to the real life character of Jean Paul Getty. It does not attempt to soften him or make an excuse for his actions. It presents the man as unabashedly heartless as he was known to be, and you hate him and fear him, more so than the kidnappers who chop off the boy’s ear. But, you also despise him because you know that he existed, for real.