Opening this week

‘All the Money in the World’ film review: How to have nothing despite having it all

Ridley Scott’s movie stars Christopher Plummer as American billionaire J Paul Getty, who refuses to pay the ransom of his abducted grandson.

The latest movie from the prolific and indefatigable Ridley Scott pivots on a screenplay that is always on the money.

All the Money in the World, drawn from John Pearson’s 1995 book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty, is set in 1973 and is packed with observations about the top 1% that ring true in the present. The plot revolves around a kidnapping fuelled and foiled by greed. The scent of ill-begotten riches draws a group of Italian kidnappers led by Cinquanta (Romain Duris) to Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), the 16-year-old grandson of American billionaire J Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). The abductors demand a ransom of $17 million, only to realise that they are up against an altogether more sophisticated kind of criminal.

Getty refuses to pay up – what if kidnappers started picking up all his other grandchildren, he wonders. He is unmoved by the quiet despair of his former daughter-in-law Gail (Michelle Williams), who is divorced from his son, and hires his chief deal-maker Fletcher (Mark Wahlberg) as a hostage negotiator, but only to haggle down the asking rate.

There’s a darkly comic undertone to the proceedings that Scott and writer David Scarpa keep out of sight. Instead, the movie is a sobering study of extreme wealth that is both sweeping and intimate. The insensitivity and entitlement that comes from being filthy rich isn’t Getty’s burden alone to bear, but his pettiness is surely a unique trait.

The movie gives its unlikeable lead character several moments of self-revelation. Getty is dismissive of the title that was suggested for a book he wrote in 1965: How to Get Rich, he said, missed the point about his achievements. He choose instead to call it How to Be Rich. As he explained, it’s not about making money, but it’s about what you do with it.

For Getty, that meant splashing his cash on artefacts and objets d’art. David Scarpa’s screenplay draws neat parallels between the lifeless paintings and sculptures that crowd Getty’s mansion and the flesh-and-blood human beings for whom his stony heart does not have a single tear.

All the Money in the World.

The muted tones of Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography acquire a sepulchral tinge in the sequences featuring Getty. Christopher Plummer shines in a role that was originally intended for Kevin Spacey, who was kicked off the production after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against him. Spacey was to have played the role with facial prosthetics; Plummer’s cold and menacing visage is entirely his own.

The other cast members are equally effective, including Michelle Williams, who does a fine job of portraying Gail’s helplessness without descending into melodrama, and Mark Wahlberg and Romain Duris, both of whom are dismayed by Getty’s cruelty. Charlie Plummer, who was brilliant in Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete (2017), is suitably vulnerable as the luckless teenager with a surname that does him no favours.

An edifying speech by Fletcher to Getty is a misfire in an otherwise cool-headed movie, which allows the repulsiveness of Getty’s reaction to speak for itself. The overdramatised climax also disrupts the otherwise balanced tone of events. But the ending draws a startling connection between Getty’s love for collectibles and the art world, which doesn’t always question the provenance of its donations.

Getty was right: it’s not about getting rich, but about being rich.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

A special shade of blue inspired these musicians to create a musical piece

Thanks to an interesting neurological condition called synesthesia.

On certain forums on the Internet, heated discussions revolve around the colour of number 9 or the sound of strawberry cupcake. And most forum members mount a passionate defence of their points of view on these topics. These posts provide insight into a lesser known, but well-documented, sensory condition called synesthesia - simply described as the cross wiring of the senses.

Synesthetes can ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ paintings, ‘hear’ emotions...and experience other sensory combinations based on their type. If this seems confusing, just pay some attention to our everyday language. It’s riddled with synesthesia-like metaphors - ‘to go green with envy’, ‘to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth’, ‘loud colours’, ‘sweet smells’ and so on.

Synesthesia is a deeply individual experience for those who have it and differs from person to person. About 80 different types of synesthesia have been discovered so far. Some synesthetes even have multiple types, making their inner experience far richer than most can imagine.

Most synesthetes vehemently maintain that they don’t consider their synesthesia to be problem that needs to be fixed. Indeed, synesthesia isn’t classified as a disorder, but only a neurological condition - one that scientists say may even confer cognitive benefits, chief among them being a heightened sense of creativity.

Pop culture has celebrated synesthetic minds for centuries. Synesthetic musicians, writers, artists and even scientists have produced a body of work that still inspires. Indeed, synesthetes often gravitate towards the arts. Eduardo is a Canadian violinist who has synesthesia. He’s, in fact, so obsessed with it that he even went on to do a doctoral thesis on the subject. Eduardo has also authored a children’s book meant to encourage latent creativity, and synesthesia, in children.

Litsa, a British violinist, sees splashes of paint when she hears music. For her, the note G is green; she can’t separate the two. She considers synesthesia to be a fundamental part of her vocation. Samara echoes the sentiment. A talented cellist from London, Samara can’t quite quantify the effect of synesthesia on her music, for she has never known a life without it. Like most synesthetes, the discovery of synesthesia for Samara was really the realisation that other people didn’t experience the world the way she did.

Eduardo, Litsa and Samara got together to make music guided by their synesthesia. They were invited by Maruti NEXA to interpret their new automotive colour - NEXA Blue. The signature shade represents the brand’s spirit of innovation and draws on the legacy of blue as the colour that has inspired innovation and creativity in art, science and culture for centuries.

Each musician, like a true synesthete, came up with a different note to represent the colour. NEXA roped in Indraneel, a composer, to tie these notes together into a harmonious composition. The video below shows how Sound of NEXA Blue was conceived.


You can watch Eduardo, Litsa and Samara play the entire Sound of NEXA Blue composition in the video below.


To know more about NEXA Blue and how the brand constantly strives to bring something exclusive and innovative to its customers, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.