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Posted at: Jan 5, 2018, 7:13 PM; last updated: Jan 5, 2018, 7:13 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

You can bet on this one

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You can bet on this one
A still from All The Money In The World

Nonika Singh

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. All the money in the world and not a penny to spare. And what you get is a real billionaire; the oil tycoon J Paul Getty, who would buy a million dollar painting without batting an eyelid, yet would not pay up the ransom money for his grandson. 

Yes, he knows everything has a price and how he gloats about his negotiation skills. He is one hell of a bargainer.   Only, the man, who can’t find the human equivalent of beautiful things, puts the price tag of nothing on his grandchild, one who by the way he considers more special than others. Rich, nay superrich, and their idiosyncratic ways… is not just one part of this kidnap drama set in 1970s but the core that holds it all. 

From the moment Christopher Plummer appears as the owner of vast business empire Getty Oil he owns the film, with his remarkable presence aided by some fine pungent dialogues like, “Children become your hostage to fortune.” It’s hard to believe he wasn’t the original choice. What is now part of film-lore, Kevin Spacey was the actor with whom the film was shot. But his fall from grace (charges of sexual harassment) and six weeks before the release he was edited out and Plummer walked in. Never mind the short time at hand, he simply fits the bill. Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, the distraught and harried mother matches Plummer step by step. Her frenzy is palpable as she does her level best to free her son from the abductors, the Italian ring of organised crime. Her disgust with her former father-in-law Getty, especially when she discovers the invaluable antique he gifted her son is a trinket, is one of the many windows to the unending greed of the man that Getty is.

Indeed, you don’t quite get to peep into his soul (if he has one that is) except in the afterword where you learn at least some part of the reason of the way he is.  But then business empires are not built overnight, nor on sentiments. A classic example is when he turns away entreaties for help of the needy with a jibe, “If I were to help each one of those who seek help I would be as destitute.” Indeed, when his own flesh and blood gets caught in his miserly antics…things acquire a different hue. Around the abduction crime are built some chills and thrills and at points it makes you truly fear for the teenage kid, who appears to be in grave danger. 

But even then your prime thoughts remain with the old man…why the heck wouldn’t he relent? His turnaround in the end is as inexplicable as his behaviour in the beginning even though the quirks of his character are built up in the initial few scenes itself. 

Based on John Pearson's 1995 book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty much is crafted well. Only, don’t expect a fast- paced actioner like Taken… here even Mark Wahlberg playing Fletcher Chase, a former CIA operative doesn’t get  a piece of action. Nor is it as chilling or nail-biting as Ransom. This thriller is more of a human drama with human foibles turned upside down. Yet, taut and engaging spread out at 132 minutes it’s an absorbing fare made more compelling by its lead actors. If not bet you can put your money on this one. Just to let you know all the money that Getty put in buying art now stands as Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

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