all the money in the world review

It seems to come up every few years, whether the financial crisis or there’s always some case between upper and middle/lower classes arguing what is enough. Is there any way for progress for the people who don’t have money to get through to the wealthy?

I think part of the point the movie makes is that this vast wealth isn’t even good for the wealthy. It’s an impediment to their lives as well. As much as people like Getty are driven to amass as much of it as possible, it really serves no purpose for them. Hopefully that’s a part of the subtext of the movie that people will see. I think Getty himself was a billionaire. At the time that was a vast, insane, mind blowing thing. Now billionaires are a dime a dozen. We’ve got this disparity of wealth that’s even greater. I think there is a bigger metaphor to be drawn from this story about the value of human life, the question of what is enough? How much is enough for any given person? I think all of those are really relevant to this movie.

What is it that gives someone like Getty this disconnect to value money over his family?

I think the key, at least the way I conceived him, is he truly loves his grandson. His grandson is his favorite and we establish that in the movie. This is a man without anybody in his world. He doesn’t have anybody. He’s got women but they’re women that are sort of utilitarian to him. He doesn’t have love in his life and his relationship with his grandson is that. He truly loves him and wants him back, yet he can’t part, he’s so addicted to money he can’t give it up. That is what creates this struggle within him. If he simply doesn’t care about his grandson, there’s no movie there. It’s like, “I’m not going to give up the money. I don’t care about this kid.” It’s much more interesting if he truly does love the kid. There’s a scene basically where he says to Chase, “This boy means a lot to me. I don’t know what would happen if I lost him. So I want you to get him as cheaply as possible.” The guy’s like, “What?” It’s that internal contradiction. Even as he’s thinking one thing, he’s thinking its opposite which is I have to save [money].

It struck me in the divorce hearing between Gail and Getty II, Getty I really cannot understand how someone else wants nothing from him, because he’s always trying to get something. 

Also, on some level there’s a bit of a chess game going. She’s saying, “I’m going to make this offer because I know he’s incapable of refusing it. I know that if I put this on the table, he can’t refuse. Hr’s going to take the money over the kid.” So she’s playing him but he’s also smart enough to realize that she’s playing him. There’s an element of respect on his part which is, “Wait, I expected this to go one way and now I’m being manipulated. She’s gaming me. She’s almost telling me she’s gaming me.” She says, “You can’t help yourself” and he falls into it but then that creates this thing that nags at him for the rest of the movie which is, “I have to get equal. I have to get everything.” Then we come to another boardroom later on and he comes back and gets it all.

Is there a way to convince someone who sees the world that way that there are people who don’t want a piece of them, who just want to be in their lives for nothing?

It’s hard I think for those people because I think part of the challenge is the people who are best at seeming as if they don’t care about those things are often the people who are most manipulative. It’s very hard if you get to know people who are either very wealthy or very famous or have some status aspect that people desire, those people spend a lot of their times not knowing truly whether people can be trusted, what people are in it for with them. They themselves mistrust other people on that basis.

Was it scripted that we see the ear cut off?

It was scripted in such a way that it could be done either way. That’s a choice that you make. I think that’s an editorial choice as much as anything. I think Ridley said he went back and forth in terms of whether he wanted to do it that way. Ultimately, he did.

When you adapted Cleopatra, did you focus on a specific period of her life?

Basically, it’s focusing mainly narrowly. It’s not this big sweeping thing. It’s more of a political thriller which is focused largely around the death of Caesar. It’s written not to be what you think of as the Cleopatra movie which is three hours long, but meant to be a very tight, dirty, aggressive thriller kind of movie as opposed to a presitgey [movie].

When it’s that sort of ancient history, is the material a lot less detailed than the more recent history like All the Money in the World?

No, what’s crazy is there’s so much information about her. Because she was royalty, there’s such an amazing amount of information about that world, not even in terms of Cleopatra or what we think of Roman leaders, but there’s also a huge amount of information just about the way people lived and what they ate. All this stuff, there’s tons and tons of it out there.

Denis Villeneuve has done movies in the present and in the future. What did he want to achieve with a historical film?

So far I have not talked to him about it. Basically, he was off doing press for Blade Runner, so I’m not really in a position to answer in terms of his approach.

Is The Cartel a different sort of assignment for Ridley than working on this?

It is. He and I are doing that together right now. I mean, it’s very much in the vein of other things that he’s done like American Gangster. It’s a different world for him, slightly different world but it definitely fits into his work I think.

Is it a more linear Don Winslow adaptation than something like Savages?

Cartel is not that linear. Cartel is very Dickensian. Cartel is lots and lots of characters. It’s a huge narrative, enormous narrative. It would take eons to adapt it absolutely faithfully. You would have to shoot 20 seasons of it. It’s just vast so part of the challenge is how do we take this and turn it into a satisfying two hours and change experience. It’s different. I hope it captures the essence of what Don was trying to do, but by the very nature of it, it’s going to be a lot more economical.

Ridley has said his goal is to do three movies a year now. Does that change the way you write for him?

No, it doesn’t change things for me because he likes big things. He likes bigness. The sense of scale at which I write doesn’t have to change at all, but it is great for me because that level of aggression means we’re going to go do it. We’re going to go make this movie. We’re going to make it happen, which is fantastic because for a writer, so much of your life is about waiting. The idea that you’ve got the opportunity to make three movies a year is fantastic.

What is American Wolf?

American Wolf is loosely based on the story of a hunter who was hunting a wolf up in Montana, a very famous cause celebre’ wolf and the relationship between the hunter and the wolf. The subject of wolves is actually a huge issue up there in the west because they’re seen by some as interlopers, outsiders, as a destructive force. There’s two sides. There’s an environmentalist side and there’s a hunter side. So there’s a huge source of controversy there so it’s all about that drama.

What years were this?

It actually happened I think in ’06 but we wound up having to make enough changes that it’s much more of a fictional story that’s based around that as opposed to the actual story of that .

Is it a lot of action hunting wolves in the woods?

It’s action. It’s in the vein of a Clint Eastwood movie or a Robert Redford movie or a Hemingway-esque kind of movie. On the surface it’s a story about hunting but it’s also a story about a lot of other things as well. It’s about America in the sense of how we deal with outsiders and how we deal with things that seem to threaten us.

For how much of your process do you allow yourself to deep dive into research, and when do you tell yourself you have to stop and just write?

I think there’s a point where I know what the movie is. Then I’m getting details and I’m soaking up details. Then there’s a point where I have more details than I can possibly use. That’s basically when I’m done because if I get any more I’m just going to make my life miserable by trying to accommodate it all.

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