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All the Reshoots in the World: A Review of All The Money In The World

Set in 1973, and dealing with the Rome kidnapping for ransom of one Paul Getty III, this fact-based Ridley Scott-directed film, All the Money In the World, comes with so much baggage, one could joke that it's overweight charges more than matches the film's budget. 

So yes, this is the film that had Scott deciding to reshoot most of the scenes with Kevin Spacey as the old man billionaire J. Paul Getty, and replacing him with Christopher Plummer. And after the film opened in the USA to glowing reviews, it took on additional weight as it was leaked that Mark Wahlberg was paid a hefty package for reshooting, while Michelle Williams received a paltry, ridiculous, sum. To offset the negative fallout from what was really just a far better negotiated original contract, Wahlberg then donated his full reshoot salary to the Time's Up movement in William's name. And I haven't even begun talking about the actual movie!

This is a taut, well-paced crime thriller with visceral scenes of the kidnappers cutting off one ear of the Getty boy when the negotiations for the ransom had reached an impasse. A mix of the tragic, the ludicrous, and the pathetic; it's a fascinating case study of what happens when the empire of money and power is besieged by blackmail, and how differing versions of family come into play. And what elevates this film beyond the crime story, and obviously compelled Scott to make the film, are the psychological portraits of our two main protagonists. 

 

 

As Abigail Getty, the mother of the kidnapped Paul, Michelle Williams is outstanding. Whether in the flashbacks or in the course of the kidnapping, her course to safely get back her son is etched in her face and movements. The frustration over how this steely determination is offset by the fact that she's a mere penniless in-law is heightened each time she has to negotiate with her own father-in-law, who refuses to come to his grandson's assistance. Never overplaying the role, William's quiet fire deserves all the Best Actress nominations she is garnering. It's just that in a year of strong Female performances, hers isn't as central a role as say Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, or Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird. 

 

 

We may never get to see the completed film with Spacey; but with what we have, Christopher Plummer is a great choice as Getty. Imperious, stubborn, egotistical, and even deluded and eccentric, Plummer offers us all this with such range that there are moments when we 'understand' the man, and why his intransigence over paying any ransom, until it was negotiated down. Small touches help 'paint' this picture of Getty the billionaire miser - how he would wash his own clothes while staying at a hotel, and how he installed a pay phone in his Surrey estate. 

For those who have watched the film, you can read on, as there is a spoiler element forthcoming: Scott fudges the timelines as after his December 1973 rescue, Paul did try to contact his grandfather who refused to come to the phone. And the old man Getty passed away in 1976. Director Danny Boyle is planning his own take on the story via the FX series Trust, with Donald Sutherland taking on the Getty role. 
 

Banner photo: screengrab from Sony Pictures