Thursday, December 28, 2017

All the Money in the World

Ridley Scott’s fact-based morality tale about the spoiling effects of great riches is uneven and occasionally preachy but sustained by the performances of both Michelle Williams as Abigail Getty and Christopher Plummer as her father-in-law, monster mogul J. Paul Getty, who at the time of the story was the richest man in the world. The two square off after her son J. Paul III (a wan and effete Charlie Plummer) is kidnapped in Rome by Italian opportunists or anti-capitalists, depending on whose version of events you’re citing. The senior Getty — as sour a character as I’ve seen — is not interested in paying ransom though he claims to love his grandson. He enlists the assistance of fixer Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to negotiate a deal and neutralize the boy’s mother, who Getty considers too eager to spend his money. Little goes as planned, culminating in the boy’s transferral to even more brutal handlers and his eventual mutilation. The film’s dynamic pull is in Getty Senior’s chilly remove from these events and Mrs. Getty’s brittle panic as a mother who loves her children but is estranged from a family into which she married but has found unsuited for much else than accumulating wealth.

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