Quick Hit: Full of more ups and downs than a roller coaster, a drunk and sweaty McConaughey turns in a good performance, under a façade of weight and baldness.
I’ll be the first to say this: I think my review is going to go against the masses on this one. Gold was screened for critics and audience members last night, and at times, I felt as if I was the only one laughing at jokes or reacting to twists. That’s not to say that I fantastically interpreted the movie more than other people – maybe I just identified with it a bit more. As a man who once was led by his mother through an Arkansas dirt field in mid-July in order to pan for gold in the dirt, I understand the deep need that different characters refer to. Do I think that Wells was probably just trying to get rich? Eh, maybe. But does that make him a character that couldn’t strive for the romance of striking for gold? No. There is a romantic feeling in digging for “buried treasure”, invoking boyhood dreams of pirates and lost cities.
I digress (surprise surprise!).
Gold follows a larger McConaughey than most ladies are used to – roughly 45 pounds larger – and balding to boot – as character Kenny Wells. He’s allowed his families company to fall into the ground (mining pun!), and is now conducting business in the bar that his wife (Dallas Bryce Howard, with increasingly bigger hair) works at. Eventually, he has a dream one night that he will have a big gold strike in Indonesia. He flies there to partner with former copper golden boy Mike Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). Once they strike the deal, Wells finances all he can muster and they begin to dig.
All of this is the initial uphill climb of the roller coaster, allowing us to build to a feeling that everything will be ok, before everything comes plummeting down. To explain the plot in this film further would be a disservice to all who come into the movie with an open mind, as the twists represent some of the best parts of the film.
The acting is good across the board – McConaughey and Ramirez are extremely charismatic, and infuse their characters with more emotion than is written into the script. Ms. Howard is given almost nothing to do on screen besides serve as a temporary inspiration for Wells – at times she is largely forgotten about. Other side characters come and go, as the script attempts to juggle more and more characters that go unnamed and unnoticed. This does however, accomplish one thing: it keeps the focus on Wells, and the movie ends up better for it.
That's largely because the movie is at its best when it focuses on its two leads. As stated, they elevate a poorly written script that dives helter skelter between comedy and drama seemingly within a sentence. The men's relationship grows throughout the movie, to the point that you recognize a true kindred spirit that lives between them. It makes the ending even more compelling when looked at in this light.
This story is based upon a scandal that I loosely researched after seeing the film. The names have been changed, and many of the details are different, but for a large portion, details seem the same (the scandal was Bre-X if you’re curious, and it happened in Canada). The biggest problem overall that I have with this film is how much it seems to borrow from other films. At times, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the similarities to The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short. This is due to the changing of the camera angle and the shifting comedy, as well as certain events that transpire throughout. Often times movies have inspiration from others, but parts of it were too close for comfort.
Overall, I enjoyed Gold. As I led with, I don't think it is going to be the most popular movie. The friend that I saw it with (a Faithful DoubleFeaturePreachers.com subscriber) stated it was a movie he enjoyed but probably wouldn't ever watch again. I like that statement - I may watch a few more times to uncover what I missed, but I wouldn't want to watch it daily. I’m not saying it’s the best movie McConaughey has ever done – but it’s definitely not his worst, and I was entertained throughout. I’m going to give it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"