I'll say this much for the very late J. Paul Getty. He knew how to live. Brothers in reclusiveness, we are, although in his secluded style, he could enjoy hundreds of fine art classics without ever leaving one of his humble, sprawling villas. In that I sympathized with Getty, played by the magnificent Christopher Plummer (all of whose scenes were reshot by director Ridley Scott, after Kevin Spacey's public implosion), in the cinematic tour de force, All the Money in the World.
That, of course, is nearly what Getty possessed, largely by making a virtue of miserliness — and by hoarding his emotions as well as his art. My miserliness would, however, draw the line at doing my own laundry in swanky Italian hotel rooms.
In Manohla Dargis' review (NY Times) of this perfectly gripping film she writes that "Mr. Plummer … creates a rapacious man whose hunger for wealth and power (and more money, always more) has hollowed him out." My impression of Plummer's J. Paul Getty performance differed somewhat from Dargis'. It seemed to me that Getty was living his life precisely as he wanted to live it, hence there was no painful hollowing out of the man.
Was he in some ways "monstrous," as Dargis notes? Most of us would agree in the affirmative. But it was, after all, his life, and if one chooses not to make value judgements about how he chose to live it, then one is left with accepting a rather odd but nonetheless rewarding existence. Even in the public ordeal of his grandson's kidnapping Getty plied his beloved trade of dealmaking, snookering the mafiaso kidnappers into taking but a fraction of the original ransom demand — hilariously, the maximum amount that was, for Getty, tax deductible under the law. The Art of the Deal to the very end. (In today's White House there sits a real monster who could learn a few things from this first-rate wealth-and-power seeker, who cherished the aesthetic, too.)
Quite by itself, the film's ending is also a tour de force in irony. About that, I'll say no more. What I will say is that if you're a lover of cinema, your 2018 moviegoing experiences will get off on the right foot if you just step into a theatre showing All the Money in the World.