Jan 8, 2018

Review: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (dir. Ridley Scott)


'The black joke that unfurls at the centre of this film — part thriller, part morality tale — is that the boy would probably better off with his kidnappers. The boy’s father is long out of the picture,  lost in an opium cloud in Marrakesh.  Only the mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), seems to care, and it is her resolve that powers the story. Long bruised by any entanglements with her estranged husband’s family, she alone seems to know what to expect. The greed of the kidnappers seems almost quaint when set besides that of her father-in-law. The toughest negotiations of the film will be not with them, but with him. “I like things,” says Getty, surrounded by old-world treasures and gilt-framed masterworks in the crepuscular gloom  of his estate. “They never let me down.  There is a purity to beautiful things that I’ve never been able to find in another human being.” Critics have been saying the same thing about Ridley Scott movies for decades. A chilly Midas, shoring up Vermeers and Ming vases against his ruin, Getty is the perfect embodiment of a figure Scott has long been fascinated with, from Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner, sat atop his ziggurat collecting owls and chess pieces to Hannibal Lecter poring over his Dante manuscripts at the Palazzo Capponi in Hannibal Scott, too, likes his objets, sometime more so than his people — not for nothing are the most memorable characters in his work androids and replicants —  which is why this film is such a sleek fit for him. In Getty he’s found his Corleone — his shadow self. Who knows what Spacey did with the role — probably telegraph his villainy to the audience with a wink, like he always does — but Plummer  brings an avuncular twinkle and sly wit to this reptile: eyes narrowed to crafty slits, crafty and cold-blooded, his Getty is almost provocatively unsentimental, like a rascally relative prodding the world for its reaction. You half expect Harrison Ford to arrive in his hover car and subject him to a Voight-Kampff empathy test to see if he’s fully human. Instead we have Michelle Williams — acting’s answer to the Voight Kampff. Williams is extraordinary in this picture,  alternately fierce and fragile as she pushes her way through the paparazzi, focussed like a  laser on getting her son back, suppressing all her rage and panic beneath brittle Kennnedyesque diction, but unable to stifle gallows humor at the absurdity of the situation: begging the richest man in the world to spare a penny for his own grandson, she doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Neither do you. Williams’ mordant, heartsore performances roots the entire film. ' — from my Sunday Times review

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