Release date: 3rd February 2017/Watch the trailer here
Gold – a film which has become less known for any of the awards buzz it was so desperately aiming for and instead more for being the movie in which Matthew McConaughey gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of hair – is loosely based on the Bre-X gold mining scandal of the mid-1990s. In director Stephen Gaghan’s film, Bre-X becomes Washoe Mining, its founder David Walsh becomes Kenny Wells (McConaughey), and the time period is shifted to the late-1980s. Typically, in ‘inspired by true events’ movies, any changes to plot or characters are done to make the story more interesting or more suited to film. Apparently, this wasn’t the case with Gold.
The problem with Gold is not that it’s an inherently bad film – it’s that it’s a completely unnecessary one. Nothing about the true story or even the slightly modified version of events told in the film are interesting enough to warrant a documentary, let alone a two hour film.
Kenny Wells is a struggling, gold-hungry prospector desperate for a lucky break. Inspired by a vision that came to him in a dream (no, really), Wells teams up with keen geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) and sets off on a journey to find gold in the remote rainforests of Indonesia. Of course, they do find gold, and the Washoe Mining company ends up being worth billions of dollars. At this point, Gold starts to shift into a wannabe-Wolf of Wall Street, with McConaughey becoming more grotesque and less sympathetic with each passing minute. It’s difficult to feel anything but happiness when things begin to go wrong for Wells, given that he’s such a despicable character, driven by greed and literally nothing else. McConaughey has never been so unlikeable.
Still, at least McConaughey appears to be having fun with the role. Ramirez is painfully bland, while poor Bryce Dallas Howard is resigned to the role of ‘long term girlfriend who gets tossed aside and forgotten about as soon as the boyfriend becomes rich and successful and the plot no longer requires her’.
It’s all very inconsistent, which is the perfect word to describe Gold, both in terms of quality and in terms of entertainment – there are far too many instances when Gold veers into boring territory, and it overstays its welcome by at least thirty minutes. When the final twist is eventually revealed, it comes as no great surprise and besides, most of the audience presumably won’t be invested enough to care, anyway. There’s very little about this film that feels golden.