Movie Review: ‘Gold’


Director: Stephen Gaghan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez

Plot: During the 1980s business man Kenny Wells put what little he had behind geologist Michael Acosta. Together they uncover they set up in Indonesia and discover the biggest gold find of the decade.

Review: Over the course of this true story we see the rise and fall of Kenny Wells (McConaughey), who inherited his family mining company but fallen on tough times. He follows a literal dream he has about Indonesia to find the big hit he needs to get back on top, teaming up with down on his luck geologist Acosta (Ramirez) to make it happen. Wells is portrayed as a loveable hustler, but he definitely leans more heavily into hustler territory during key scenes of the film. Kicking off the story with a guy having a vivid dream about the random location they’ll find gold stretches his credibility a tad as well.

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During the first two acts of this movie it was very hard to determine where they were trying to go with the story. We get elements of Wells following his dream, being the scrappy underdog, sacrificing his relationships to stay ahead, sticking to his guns, preserving his legacy…but none of it felt as though it was the central theme. We’ve got good performances, solid direction and a great soundtrack, but it was lacking a lynchpin that would hold it all together. This sense of uncertainty is heightened when a framing device of being interviewed after the fact is introduced late in the film, an odd narrative choice. In addition there’s a feeling that we’re not following the most interesting character in this story, as Acosta was doing the digging and dealing with corrupt officials while Wells was being rude at corporate meetings. 

What turns everything around is a bombshell dropped in the final act. It turns out that key element needed to be held back until it would have the most impact the film and characters immediately become more engaging. It’s hardly ideal to hinge an entire narrative on the final act, but it does end the film on a high note.

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Even though he has crooked teeth, a beer gut and a balding head this really is a McConaughey playing McConaughey role. If is based on a true story, but it’s very hard to see past the actor’s unique style. Not that this detracts from the enjoying the role, more it’s a recommendation for McConaughey fans to get their fix. Bryce Dallas Howard also impresses as his partner, Kate, but with the exception of one scene she has little impact on the story. We would’ve liked to have followed her character a bit more.

All the main elements of the film – acting, direction, etc. – are all very well done and enjoyable. It’s just a shame that the story doesn’t take hold until the final 20 minutes.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN

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