Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN -



EX­EC­U­TIVE PRO­DUC­ERS Chris­tian Col­son, Si­mon Beau­foy, Danny Boyle

CAST Don­ald Suther­land, Hi­lary Swank, Har­ris Dick­in­son, Brendan Fraser

PLOT It’s 1973, and John Paul Getty III (Dick­in­son) — heir to an oil ship­ping for­tune — has just been kid­napped while liv­ing in Rome. His mother (Swank) and a fam­ily se­cu­rity of­fi­cial (Fraser) try to se­cure his safe re­turn but, sus­pect­ing a hoax, his bil­lion­aire grand­fa­ther (Suther­land) re­fuses to pay a penny. THERE’S AN UN­FOR­TU­NATE air of late ar­rival to this one. In­spired by the same true-life events as Ri­d­ley Scott’s All The Money In The World and the­mat­i­cally of a piece with re­cent HBO break­out hit Suc­ces­sion, Trust runs the risk of of­fer­ing view­ers the TV equiv­a­lent of a well-mean­ing col­league de­liv­er­ing a joke you’ve al­ready heard be­fore. But first, as we know, does not al­ways mean best. And screen­writer Si­mon Beau­foy and di­rec­tor Danny Boyle have turned the newly fa­mil­iar trou­bles of the Getty dynasty into some­thing strange, au­da­ciously funny and thrillingly macabre.

We start in 1973, with a know­ing blast of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, and Boyle (who di­rects the first three in­stal­ments of the ten-episode se­ries) ex­pertly mar­shalling the grisly, drug-ad­dled sui­cide of one of John Paul Getty’s (Suther­land) un­ruly sons. The fu­neral co­in­cides with the ar­rival of bell-bot­tomed, debt-rid­den out­cast John Paul Getty III (Dick­in­son), who, ini­tially, be­comes a use­ful au­di­ence avatar for the coming jour­ney into a world of su­per-rich dys­func­tion. We meet Getty Sr’s mul­ti­ple wives and girl­friends and, nat­u­rally, catch a glimpse of the pet lion he has un­leashed in his grand English manor.

Af­ter a thwarted at­tempt to win­kle cash out of his grand­dad, ‘Lit­tle Paul’ re­turns to Rome and is promptly abducted by the Mafia-linked hoods he owes money to. His mother (Swank) works with Fraser’s ge­nial Getty em­ployee to get him freed un­til the older Getty — con­vinced that pay­ing a ran­som will open the ex­tor­tion flood­gates on his other heirs — pub­licly tells the kid­nap­pers he won’t stump up. From here a knotty tale — part high-grade soap, part Coen-ish ex­plo­ration of dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal in­ep­ti­tude — com­mences. Flash­backs deepen our un­der­stand­ing of Getty Sr’s cold cru­elty, there’s a nu­anced por­trayal of the kid­nap­pers and the cast all get the tricky, blackly funny tone just about right.

Suther­land is ter­rif­i­cally un­set­tling as Getty and slowly adds some in­ter­est­ing lay­ers to the Scrooge Mc­duck act. And Swank sells the an­guish of a mother des­per­ately try­ing to get both law en­force­ment and the Getty fam­ily to take her son’s dis­ap­pear­ance se­ri­ously. But it’s Fraser, as a kind of de­cep­tively sharp, Marge Gun­der­son-type, who is the real rev­e­la­tion, able to con­vey Stet­son­tip­ping Texan charm and grave se­ri­ous­ness with equal skill.

UNKLE mu­si­cian James Lavelle’s throb­bing, elec­tronic score is a lit­tle in­tru­sive at times and some of the Boyleian stylis­tic flour­ishes (Fraser’s emer­gence as a wry, to-cam­era nar­ra­tor) are a touch jar­ring. But this is a hugely watch­able se­ries with lots of vis­ual daz­zle and plenty to say about the cor­rupt­ing power of wealth. JIMI FA­MUREWA

VERDICT Not merely “that other Getty” drama, this is a fan­tas­ti­cally acted, en­joy­ably weird com­edy noir that — in di­rect­ing terms — may make Bond fans weep anew for what might have been.

“One day son, all this won’t be yours.” TV & stream­ing

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