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An amazing true story of wealth, which…isn’t strictly true. The unreliable narrative of Gold is sadly one of the sour truth nuggets in the newest McConaughey vehicle.
There’s barely an ounce of truth in Gold. It doesn’t matter.
This is not, as the filmmakers have repeatedly stated (quite possibly to avoid being sued) an account of the very real 1990’s Bre-X scandal (perhaps in part because it’s very hard to tell a story about Wall Street and the downfall of American aspiration set in Canada). Gold, very loosely inspired by the now infamous discovery of what was then considered one of the world’s largest gold deposits in Indonesia, tells the story of Matthew McConaughey’s dogged prospector Kenny Wells, without whom the film barely registers.
Speeches, exposition, or even Wells and his business partner (emerging-star Edgar Ramirez) staring in wonder at their discovery does little to convey man’s historic and hugely consequential obsession with the mineral, a concept critical to the film, compared to McConaughey’s wide-eyed wonder or indomitable exuberance at literally striking gold. His recent foray into adult drama, duly dubbed “The McConaissance”, even with the always excellent Bryce Dallas Howard and Corey Stoll you can’t take your eyes of McConaughey – in equal parts fascinating, noxious and appealing in a role he gained 20 kilos and shed his hair to play. In spite of all you see and everything that eventuates, McConaughey still manages to make Wells endearing enough that you want him to succeed, and that, more than perhaps anything else, is the mark of a truly talented performer who’s finally having his day in the sun.
Championing Gold’s first act, it is regretfully the second that lets McConaughey and the film down, with complications inserted for complications’ sake, largely depicted perfunctorily and often without apparent regard for any of the preceding minutes’ events, as if dramatic license demanded an abrupt change of tack in the narrative. Australian actress Rachael Taylor makes an important yet brief appearance, and only in so far as the need to throw a spanner in Gold’s works demands it.
The third act, depicting the most true-to-life events and similarly the most intriguing part of the film, clumsily introduced by confusing flashback sequences inserted halfway into Gold, is unfittingly over all too soon. Wreaking of the subversiveness that made The Big Short such a success, whereas Adam McKay’s drama relied on blind greed and its consequences as its central theme, here the impact of the fundamental human flaw is introduced very late in the piece, and just when we begin to want more.
Flawed if worthy viewing for McConaughey’s continued razing of the boundaries that once kept him ensconced in dime-a-dozen rom-coms, while Gold is not an unedifying prospect, it’s still just that bit more exciting to see what he does next.
Gold is in cinemas now.