Ridley Scott gives us his Citizen Kane

Ridley Scott gives us his Citizen Kane

Ridley Scott gives us his Citizen Kane

All the money in the world

English (U/A)

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg

Director: Ridley Scott

Rating: ***

If someone had asked Ridley Scott what his version of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941)  would look like, his answer may have been 'All the money in the world'.  

The movie  is about the real-life J Paul Getty, who was the richest man who ever lived, and arguably one of the most frugal. His 16-year-old grandson, who was named after him and  was allegedly his favourite grandchild, gets kidnapped and he simply refuses to pay the ransom.

Seconds before Getty's daughter-in-law Abigail (Michelle Williams) meets him for the first time, she asks her son not to touch anything in the house (Getty's) because they may be "priceless", and we suddenly hear  his voice booming from the other room.  

In the next frame, we do not see him, but only a line of  clothes drying inside a room - a sight very unbecoming of the palatial dimensions of the  house (he washes them that way to  save money).  In what  feels like a parody of God calling out to Moses from Mount Sinai, Getty's voice calls out, "I don't like that word - priceless. It may be invaluable, yes, but what's priceless?"

Getty is a selfish, greedy man, whose  recognition  of the potential of the oil from West Asia may have helped shape modern economy, but  his madness for money makes him  tragically alone.  And Plummer plays  the role to perfection.

Getty realises that his empire  is not one  with peers in modern history. He yearns for  a spiritual connect with old Roman emperors. He feels at home in the ruins of their palaces, and by the end of the movie, we realise he imagines himself one of them.

The movie has advertised itself as a kidnap-thriller - one of those flicks that promises to keep us on the edge of  our seats. The kidnap  and the ensuing chase, which makes up for most of the movie's running time, is exactly what makes the movie feel long and drab.  Even Michelle Williams at the top of her game does not help.

The kidnap plotline is interesting only as far as it sheds light into Getty's dark soul. It is ironic that we leave yearning for more of  the movie after we'd been hoping it would end sooner, but that is only because the time could have been used to flesh out Getty better.

His tragic  flaw, his love for money and valuables, is not an original. There he counts Ebenezer Scrooge and Shylock as ancestors. In his decline, he is a brother to Charles Foster Kane. They both come to conclusion that even with Xanadus at their feet, Rosebuds are what they need.

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