All the Money in the World based on the book by John Pearson
This motion picture has probably had more buzz surrounding the postproduction, re- shooting and financial aspects, than discussion over the merits or lack thereof of a feature that has a nomination for an Academy Award.
Christopher Plummer, at the age of 88 (!) has played the role of the obnoxious, despicable, greedy, and psychopathic to a certain degree, richest man of his time and for all history up to 1973- John Paul Getty.
Nevertheless, the excellent, veteran Oscar winner and nominated for this part for another Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role and the oldest to get this nod, was not the first choice, but came after director Ridley Scott had decided to replace the original star, Kevin Spacey, in the aftermath of scandals surrounding his alleged abuse of teenage boys.
The production has taken to re-shoot the scenes involving John Paul Getty and called the other actors involved- Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, the daughter in law of the villainous, heartless tycoon and Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chase, the man who tries to help the mother recuperate her son.
However, the new scenes were paid with over one million- was it one point seven million dollars- in the case of the male star and only with something like eighty dollars per day for Michele Williams, a huge discrepancy that has highlighted yet again the discriminations that women still have to face, even in highly paid positions.
Alas, some may feel that neither Ms. Williams, nor Mark Wahlberg have had their best performances in this motion picture about greed, love, hope, courage, vitality, recklessness, indifference and humanity.
Early on, a group of criminals in Italy abducts John Paul Getty III –portrayed by a promising artist called Charlie Plummer- a coincidence, since he is not related to Christopher Plummer-.
One of the most important villains, the one who will both assist the felons and try to help poor young John to survive the ordeal and come out with as little trauma and physical damage as possible, is played by one of the best actors in the world, Romain Duris aka Cinquanta.
John Paul Getty is not just the richest man in the world, but also a billionaire who has invested vast sums in works of art- that have finally adorned the museum Getty, but only after his demise-and he has a reputation as a savvy, well versed, knowledgeable collector, who offers a gift to his favorite grandson.
This man is The Miser from the paly by Moliere and it is surprising to see him tell the story of a statuette, which he has found in the market, where a man was asking for $ 20 –was it? - and it took the billionaire one hour to take the price down to $ 10 for a work of art that he estimates at over one million.
If this looks like an outrageous, cheap game played by the richest man of the planet, it must also be said that a classic of positive psychology, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, author of the archetypal Flow, mentions the example of an Italian art dealer who would refuse a client who does not negotiate, because he is “in the zone” when haggling, without this negotiation there is no Flow.
Nevertheless, when pressed by the demands of the kidnappers, Gail Harris decides to sell the valuable gift and travels to the Sotheby’s auction house to try to obtain the million dollars or more for the expensive possession, only to be told that the object is actually worth only $ 15.
One lesson from this incident and the whole story might be to think twice or more about rejecting a share of the fortune, which is what Ms. Harris had done, when she divorced her husband, she specified that she wants no part of the Getty wealth; she only wants custody of her children.
When the criminals ask for seventeen million dollars, the richest man’s response is that he will not pay, when further asked, he insists he has no money to spare, it is a difficult time and when Fletcher Chase mentions the oil crisis which brings Getty so much more, the latter still refuses to do anything for his unfortunate relative.
Meanwhile, as the gangsters saw that the mother has nothing and the wealthy old man does not play ball- he even speaks to the press and refers to his many relatives claiming that there is no way he would give in, because after that he would have to pay millions every day- they mutilate the poor boy.
Cinquanta plays a double game, calling the mother and warning her about the intentions of the other members of the gang, but as part of this complicated position, he is the one who holds young Paul down, when a doctor comes to cut one ear off, to be presented to the family and convince them that other anatomical parts would follow if the millions do not materialize.
A newspaper offers $ fifty thousand for the right to print the gory images, insisting that they know that the mother has no money and therefore this sum could help- Gail Harris rejects the notion of trading with the suffering and trauma of her beloved son, but has a brilliant idea, asking for one thousand copies of the newspaper in return for the copyright.
She sends the big packages to the residence- palace actually- of the wealthiest but also poorest man on earth- destitute not financially, but emotionally- and this appears to work as the heinous Getty pays more attention to the issue and finds that there is a way to deduct some tax from this kidnapping.
Loathsome as he is, he wants to offer a loan to his son, for tax purposes, since there is not legal benefit from paying ransom, and he wants in exchange that his daughter in law would give away the custody of the children.
Most critics have been happy with this motion picture, but you may find it less rewarding that expected, unless you consider Hamlet:
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”