Never expecting the (nearly) last film to screen before Christmas Day would turn out to be one of the Best Films of the Year, I was totally blown away by “All the Money in the World”! Color me surprised! I should’ve known. Master Filmmaker Ripley Scott, 80 and Oscarless still, has directed a rip-roaring’, edge of your seat, snatched from the headlines thriller. With two Oscar- seeking performances by three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams and Octogenarian Oscar Winner 88-year-old Christopher Plummer. Based on the true story from the ’70s of J. Paul Getty’s grandson’s kidnapping, it’s a white-knuckle thriller that holds you in its death-defying grip and squeezes you and squeezes you,barely letting you breathe for its over two-hour plus length. It was fantastic. It’s as dizzying as standing on the top of Mt. Everest.
At times, Scott’s dare-devil-pacing has your mind racing like a speed-demon at the Annapolis 500, a steeple chase that is going to straight to hell in a handbasket. A handbasket that contains Getty’s captive grandson’s severed ear. And yes, Scott does show you that horrific scene in all its Grand Guignol glory. He doesn’t shy away from it.
It’s sort of the point of this horrible morality tale, where the real villain is money. Getty is not just the richest man in the world. He’s the richest man who ever lived.And his J. Paul Getty is one of Plummer’s greatest performances and is currently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. As is Michelle Williams for her brave, fearless,angry,defiant daughter-in-law, Abigail Harris, whose son is the one the Mafia captures.
Assuming it’ll be an easy-peasy few million from the old man, it turns out to be a night-mare beyond all imagining for her. Williams gives a towering performance and matches her nemesis beat-for-beat. Her nemesis is not The Mob, but her greedy, parsimonious father-in-law, who doesn’t give a fig for his godson’s life or his ear. Even though the teenager is named John Paul Getty III.
I hope Williams amazing performance is not lost on audiences,who are most likely to know “All the Money in the World” as the film that recently disgraced Kevin Spacey was replaced in. The nine DAY re-shoot was accomplished at the same pace “All the Money in the World” itself maintains. Feverish and seamless. You’d never know that this kind of major revision was done, and done so well, and Plummer just shines, shines, shines. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg as the Getty henchman, flew back to reshoot the “new” scenes AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. and both of them hold their own, and more, with the astounding Plummer.I saw his “King Lear” on Bway. His Getty is just as good if not better.
It is photographed, at first, at the fountains of Trevi in Rome, in a dolce vita black and white that gradually changes into a de-saturated, greenish pallette, that is – the color of money. Plummer as Getty, at the end of the film, seems so green and thin, he’s almost turned into a dollar bill himself. The events in “All the Money In the World” are at times sickening, grotesque and frightening. It painstakingly shows the toll that all that money takes. On everyone and everything it touches.
Only Michelle Williams’ valiant Abigail Harris makes you care what happens to her hapless long-haired stoner of a son( played as a marvelous, but resourceful blank by a young actor named Charlie Plummer, strangely no relation to his well-known grand-father). The mother here is wonderful. The kidnapped grandson is nothing. Nobody cares about what happens to him. Only his heroic mother.
“All the Money In the World ” is unquestionably one of the best fims of the year, and is going right into my Year’s Top Ten.