Released: February 2017
Going into this film, it seemed likely it would try and disguise a weak plot and poor characters with the distraction having put Matthew McConaughey in a bald cap and fat suit. That is really quite distracting at first, but luckily it doesn’t need to be, as the story really can stand on it’s own plot twists and turns and McConaughey doesn’t let the outfit do all the acting for him.
Gold is set in an eighties (despite having basis in a true story from the early nineties) that they had so much fun creating that it’s resulted in a sort of hyper-real projection of the decade, as if they tried to simmer the whole ten years down into a thick, two hour long stew. It’s a tale of entrepreneurship, quick-talking salesmen, hustling, con-men and betting big and winning bigger, all pasted onto a world of orange wallpaper, brown suits and gold digital watches.
There has been a lot of reviews accusing McConaughey of being hammy in this. While you could accuse the set designers and costume department of perhaps going a little overboard, I think to criticise McConaughey’s performance is unfair, and suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of who he is playing.
Kenny Wells is a failure. At the start of the film he can’t get anyone to give him a chance, however he tries, and the more pathetic and desperate he gets, the less people want to invest with him and his family mining corporation. He is, however, a salesman. He knows it’s all about the show, the confidence, dazzling your opponents and investors alike into believing in you. But he also knows he’s too far gone, that he’s lost it, but he’s still trying. Kenny Wells is a hammy actor, he can’t hit any of the right notes but he can’t admit that to himself.
McConaughey pins down this hapless loser, and the result is, you can’t warm to him. He is a sweaty, slippery character and don’t want him to succeed, even when he is the underdog.
The film follows Kenny as he teams up with Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) on one final gamble to find minerals worth mining in the Indonesian jungle and save his company. They strike gold, but things don’t pan out quite the way Wells had envisioned. The film is based on the true events surrounding the Bre-X mining scandal, and sticks pretty closely to the truth. It’s already a ridiculous enough story that it didn’t need any real tweaking.
It’s not a pioneering film be any means, and is in fact pretty forgettable. However, while you’re watching it’s easy to get swept along with it, like it’s a grown ups version of the early treasure-hunter style films of a younger McConaughey. Don’t watch it expecting a revelation in film making, and you should come out pretty pleased with what you’ve seen.