Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writers: Patrick Massett and John Zinman
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson, Stacy Keach, Bruce Greenwood.
Synopsis: A prospector desperate for a lucky break, teams up with a similarly eager geologist and sets off on an amazing journey to find gold in the uncharted jungle of Indonesia.
Matthew McConaughey has, over the last two decades, proven himself as a versatile actor who would go above and beyond for a movie character. He is a chameleon of sorts when he acts, changing form entirely to breathe life into his roles, and usually giving the film much colour and critical acclaim just by being in it.
In Dallas Buyers Club(2013) for example, he is an optimistic AIDS patient who is uncouth and painfully thin. In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, he is reckless and good looking. And on and on, from How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days to The Wedding Planner, McConaughey has taken many different forms and wowed us regardless. In Gold, he is Kenny Wells, a middle-aged prospector in the eighties who is passionate about finding gold and keeping his family legacy. He is bald, has bad teeth and his waistline is out of proportion, but he is confident, alcoholic and dogged.
Wells has a dream about gold in Indonesia, and finds Mike Acosta, a geologist who shares his quest. They launch out to find gold, giving all that they have and failing many times till they finally hit a gold mine, literally. And so they make good money and have a taste of the good life till investors come calling. They lose all their fortune due to politics, but try again and win, only to find that they would lose again.
This two-hour-long Hollywood film is basically a story of a fall, a rise, a fall, a rise and a fall again, which ends with an almost-rise. The bumpiness of its story gets tiring at different points because at the ninetieth minute, I had begun to jot down inspirational tidbits I was garnering from Kenny’s life, on how the world will only stand up for men with results, and how you must follow the dream no matter how hard it shakes you, only to find all of that inspiration get sunk in the bottom the sea of this story ‘inspired’ by true events.
But for McConaughey’s performance and an end you do not see coming, there isn’t much to hold on to in Gold. It holds its promise to offer, but it is largely indecisive on its course, unless the real story was this indecisive and then we can take the blame off the writers. This is also shown when Kenny stays with Kay (Bryce Dallas), then leaves her, then goes back to her, sees her with some man, leaves, then goes back to her again. Acosta, played by Edgar Ramirez is silent for the most part. This is perhaps to portray him as smart and calculating, but at some point, he gets lifeless and boring, and one would crave a little more enthusiasm. Is he making money too? How does he spend it? Where does he live? Does he have a family he sends this money to? He is a mystery all round, and an uninteresting one too.
Gold gives us a peek into business, stocks and fraud in the eighties, and does it believably with its props. From the printers down to Kenny’s baggy trousers, we are taken back in time to the eighties and left there. It is an enjoyable film to watch if the viewer is patient, but a hope-smasher at several stops. It isn’t a movie you want to watch for inspiration or a deep lesson. Perhaps whiling away some time might be reason enough. Perhaps.