Ridley Scott has become a hit or miss. This one’s definitely a hit.
All the Money In the World stars Michelle Williams as Gail, mother of Paul Getty III, whose grandfather is the richest man in the world. When Paul Getty III gets kidnapped in Italy, his kidnappers demand a lot of money. Everyone automatically assumes that his grandfather would pay the ransom, but to the people’s surprise, he refuses. Now we have a film that follows Michelle Williams’ character as she’s trying to get her son back.
Ridley Scott has proven multiple times in the past that he’s amazing at creating a visually stunning film. Even if the film itself is bad, you can be guaranteed that the visuals are stunning. The Alien-prequels, for example, are pretty shallow, but amazingly shot. In this film, Scott has outdone himself. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Every frame looked like it could hang in a museum of Renaissance paintings; the lighting was soft and dimmed, the shadows were dark and very present, a composition where everyone was doing their own thing, which at first glance gives off a sense of chaos, but on further thought order, the action was moving, yet static. It was beautiful. The dirty looking color grading too made each frame look like a painting as the dirty colors emulated the paint, that has become more and more filthy throughout the many years the painting has existed, which we can now see on canvases out of the 17th century. It’s very fitting that the shots look like renaissance paintings since Getty (the grandfather that is), collects paintings from that era. There’s also a reference to a painting which Getty buys on which I believe mother Maria was portrayed holding Jesus, which can be seen as an allegory for Gail wanting to be able to hold her son again.
Another thing Scott excels at in this film is the tense scenes. It’s also something he’s usually good at, but again, in this film, he really shows it. The entirety of the third act is an edge of your seat level tense. The soundtrack really helped in creating these scenes. It’s a very subtle and subdued soundtrack that slowly builds up to a tense and thrilling one, nicely fitting with the scenes created by Scott.
The film was filled with brilliant performances from everyone involved. The one everyone will be talking about is Christopher Plummer, who was excellent as John Paul Getty. I can’t quite understand why they didn’t cast him in the first place rather than Kevin Spacey, since they didn’t need any prosthetics for Plummer, but had to drown Spacey in them. I believe that the film would’ve suffered severely with him as Getty, even if the scandal had never happened. It’s also quite amazing how they managed to do all these reshoots in such a small amount of time and still have a film that still told a coherent story, where you weren’t able to tell that there had been reshoots. If I wasn’t aware of the scandal and the reshoots, I would not have been able to say that there were any. Plummer gave a very intimidating and layered performance but the one that stood out the most to me was Michelle Williams as Gail. She’s one hell of an actress and really sold this role. Her emotions were raw and believable. She brought quite a lot to her role and made Gail feel more like a character than the screenplay was capable of. Even Mark Wahlberg too gave a good performance. Some people say that he was miscast in this role, but I don’t really see why he would be. Was he miscast in The Gambler? Yes. Was he in this one? Not really.
The highlight of the screenplay was the dialogue which was extremely well written. The nadir of the screenplay were the characters, who were quite underdeveloped. The film relied too much on it being a true story to generate sympathy rather than develop the characters, by giving us some more background information, or via the already well-written dialogue. The only two reasons I slightly gave something about Gail and her kidnapped son was because it was a true story and because of the performances. There wasn’t really any character development for these two. The only one that they really looked deeper into was Christopher Plummer’s Getty, who admittedly had the most interesting character out of the bunch, to begin with. Immediately after reading the summary, you probably thought why would a human do something so inhumane? And that’s a question the movie seeks an answer for. It explores why Plummer didn’t want to pay and it gives us some reasons that make sense but still don’t make the actions less inhumane. It was very interesting to see his reasoning and I’m glad that at least his character was given some more depth. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the characters failed to have been given some depth, other than what the actors already brought to them.
All the Money in the World was a really good film, with some fantastic visuals. The acting was fantastic and so was the dialogue. Unfortunately, though, the script was lackluster in the character department, and supported too much on the true story, rather than develop them.