Trust– Episode 1: “The House of Getty”
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Harris Dickinson, Michael Esper, Anna Chancellor, Amanda Drew, Sophie Winkleman, Veronica Echegui, Silas Carson, and Brendan Fraser
Written by: Simon Beaufoy
Directed by: Danny Boyle
”Before you quote TOO much Lear, you might remember how that particular family drama ended; murder, poisoning, suicide, and insanity…as I recall ”
The heir apparent to FX’s Fargo adaptation emerges in the confident and darkly hilarious premier of Trust. Written by 127 Hours and Battle of the Sexes scribe Simon Beaufoy and directed by the supremely undervalued but immensely talented Danny Boyle. This show aims to tell the sordid, surreal tale of the Getty family. The last American “dynasty” and the strange kidnapping that made them infamous. Anchored by a game Donald Sutherland, a wry, dreamlike script from Beaufoy, and kinetically staged direction from Boyle, “The House of Getty” starts Trust off on an off-beat, but enthralling note. One that can hopefully sustain itself throughout its ten-episode run.
Firstborn son George Getty is dead. Now, the fate of the Getty Family trust is in flux. Enter J. Paul Getty, the irascible matriarch of the Getty oil fortune and shrewd businessman sitting atop a vast self-sustaining empire. He stalks throughout his day to day in his palatial mansion Sutton Place and playing mind games with his multiple girlfriends. Paul must now choose a successor from his other “disappointing” sons. The sudden arrival of his grandson J. Paul Getty III (a wiry Harris Dickinson) throws the choice into flux. He adds another layer of family drama on top of the large cake of patriarchal testosterone-fueled ego.
Though this show aims to tell the weird story of the kidnapping that caught the eye of the world back in the 70’s. This pilot episode is much more focused on building up the strange, off-kilter world of the rich it looks to inhabit. Led by Donald Sutherland, who displays the same wolfish charm and cutting wit that made his President Snow such an imposing villain in The Hunger Games, Beaufoy and Boyle build a weird, but hilarious universe around the veteran character actor. Sutton Place is filmed like a pocket dimension filled with only the affluent and their bizarre routines. For examples, Getty’s morning routine in which his stalwart butler, an icy Silas Carson, dresses him, brushes his teeth and serves him his morning raw eggs and worcestershire sauce in a crystal glass.
Surrounding the tycoon is a “harem” of girlfriends, led by the regal Anna Chancellor of The Hour and MI-5 fame. These women act as a sort of Greek chorus of the pilot, reacting and flowing through the story as Sutherland and Dickinson orbit around each other. The grandfather looking for a successor. The grandson looking for another steady source of cash to fuel his rock and roll lifestyle. Some of the episode’s most effective and hilarious scenes are centered around the women. I am hoping they will take a more active role in the proceeding episodes.
Verdict: Watch It For It Is Too Strange (And Well Produced) to Ignore
This first episode is mainly focused on establishing the Getty dynasty. The relationship between Getty Sr. and Getty the Third, Beaufoy, and Boyle really go for the gusto with this pilot. They build an odd, grimly funny world for the show going forward. Despite the noticeable lack of Brendan Fraiser and a nebulous (at best) plot, “The House of Getty” starts Trust with a keen eye and sharp wit while taking dead aim at the lunacy and opulence of the 1%.
Until next time, eat the rich, and I’ll be seeing you.