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Soundtrack review: All the money in the world (Daniel Pemberton – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: All the money in the world (Daniel Pemberton – 2017)

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“ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD” follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money. The film is inspired by true events. Some scenes, characters and dialogue have been fictionalised for dramatic purposes.

This is THAT movie where they decided in record time to completely erase Kevin Spacey from existence and replace him with Christopher Plummer. Just my two cents I don’t think Ridley Scott’s decision had that much to to with the scandal and allegations surrounding Spacey but more to him getting his was and the last word since he wanted Plummer from the beginning but the studio imposed a more bankable star. I think good old Ridley simply found the loophole to get his actor in the movie. Daniel Pemberton wrote the score. Daniel Pemberton is one of the most exciting composers around and I am all in for any score he writes.

The opening cue “All The Money In The World (Rome 1973)” is all my nostalgic self needed to close his eyes and enjoy the emotional warmth; it’s an elegant orchestral piece that could have been written in Rome, in 1973, by Ennio Morricone and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference; the sweeping motifs, the harmonica, the tone that sends me back to so many Italian (and French, for that matter) movies seen over the years, this is a gem and a joy for me to listen to. It has that unmistakable and beautiful Italian lightness and optimism. It is but an illusion as the next cue “To be a Getty” goes dark and, as always, Daniel Pemberton does things just a bit differently; he’s a composer who always looks to experiment, try new things musically, mix different sounds so this cue is a blend of suspenseful and melodic done with lively and sharp sounds.

I like how the composer keeps me alert as he doesn’t let the music settle down; a tense, quiet cue might start and then a flute motif comes from nowhere, lively, jumpy, to tug my sleeve and let me know things are still moving; there’s a fascinating feeling of hide and seek, of a labyrinth hidden in the music and this is what I call a score that’s not skippable as even if I jump 30 seconds I might lose something unexpected. Then the kidnappers come and the melodic flow is replaced by a pulsating pace; I think I even hear some ukulele in there or at least some other string instrument that gives the frantic sensation. Cues like “The kidnappers” and “Paparazzi” are the kind of pieces that I could play to show people why I enjoy Daniel Pemberton’s music so much: he experiments, he tortures the instruments and he can go from quiet to suffocatingly fast paced in an instant. I would love to be there in his studio (are the walls white padded, I wonder) as he records a score. There’s no heavy breathing in this one but there are voices shouting or chanting every now and then and there is that vocal motif in “Escape, December 15th 1973” that reminds me of viking chants or monk chants, depends on the mood you are in.

I am listening to the way the composer combines the fragility of the flute with nervous tortured strings and a broad, scary motif on the background in “Learn a lesson” and I feel all the uncertainty and worry of what the characters might be feeling. There’s a separate sound, almost Roman Empire sounding with the horns and heavy string section when old man Getty shows up, there’s a waltz when the newspapers cover the story and also old school sounding orchestral motifs with deep brass sounds and elegant violins and there are electronic experiments like “The red brigade” that remind me of his “Jobs” score; there’s everything and more in this score and what matters is that everything fits. There is a method to Daniel Pemberton’s musical madness and I am ready to join him in experiencing everything. I will let you discover the other surprises in this album as there is no shortage of them.

“All the money in the world” is a score with a unique sound; there’s no other way to put it other that Daniel Pemberton is an auteur film music composer who makes every score he writes, well, unique in its own way. Collecting his music is like collecting special figurines that are different but part of the same universe and me, I want to have them all. I can’t wait to hear how this score fits in the context of the movie.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 47 / 70

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:
All The Money In The World (Rome 1973)
To Be A Getty
We Are Kidnappers
Paparazzi
Hadrian’s Villa
How Much Would You Pay?
Learn A Lesson
The Waltz Of The Newspapers
Safety
Sold To An Investor
Danger Sign
Editorial
The Collector
Getty Pays
Paul Runs
Escape, December 15th 1973
J. Paul Getty
All The Money In The World (Credits)

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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