When Kevin Spacey fell from grace his role in the film All the Money in the World was famously and speedily replaced by Christopher Plummer.
The story of the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III, grandson to billionaire J. Paul Getty, also forms the basis of Trust, a 10 part miniseries produced for FX. It comes with serious cachet: written by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire), directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later) and starring Donald Sutherland.
Sutherland plays the eccentric elderly oil baron, ensconced in Britain but with a family in such disarray he fears having no worthy heir. Getty has staff to dress him, brush his teeth, with a payphone in his mansion and taking notes of where every penny is spent. He also has a personal harem of 4 women, who are little more than his sexual playthings.
Son John Paul Getty Jr. (Michael Esper) is desperate to win back the affections of his father, and inherit control of the company, under pressure from wife Gail (Hilary Swank). But there are serious addiction problems which do not impress his father.
When his rebellious teenage grandson John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson) turns up unannounced, the elderly Getty warms to his intelligence and youth, declaring him the future of the company. But the teen has amassed his own debts in Rome and will prove a serious strain on the family when his life is endangered.
“I can always tell when one of my brood wants money,” says the elderly Getty.
Beaufoy’s tale is inspired by actual events, but it’s hard to know how much dramatic license has taken place here (it feels like a lot) in order to construct a super-soap with criminal elements. Putting that to one side, there is much to enjoy here and more than I had expected.
Watching Donald Sutherland lord over the Getty clan with such cold brilliance is one such joy. The locations and backdrop are dripping in wealth but it unfolds without the glossy satire of Dirty Sexy Money.
Harris Dickinson brings charisma to his role as the wayward grandson, if looking somewhat too old for a 15 year old heir (he was 17 in real life).
Boyle injects some striking imagery to this canvas and the soundtrack authentically draws upon songs by Pink Floyd, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, adding to the period British flavour. There’s even a bit of a #MeToo moment in the opening episode.
Trust is an ultimate dysfunctional TV family, artfully weaving dramatic license across a bizarre true tale.
Trust begins 9:30pm Sunday on FOX Showcase.