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Gold – Movie Review

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Gold – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

It’s surprising Stephen Gaghan hasn’t had a major film released since Syriana, a smartly written look at the oil industry and troubles that come with it. He directed that film with a fiery intensity and keen eye for how oil drives so many different decision makers. It is entirely possible he entered production of Gold with similar intentions, but the final result is a sloppily written farce that calls to mind David O. Russell’s American Hustle. However, while that film focused on a wacky set of characters, Gold only has one eccentric personality and he drives down the entire picture. If this film wanted to go the comedic route, it lacks that necessary bite.

Much of the attention on Gold will go to Matthew McConaughey, who transforms himself into the lead role of Kenny Wells. However, rather than disappearing into Wells, the amount of makeup work is a distraction. It’s a very “actory” performance that is supposed to impress us with his weight gain, bald cap and fake teeth. Yet all it does remind one of how Christian Bale managed to become his con man with ease in American Hustle. The more interesting protagonist is Edgar Ramirez’s Michael Acosta, who one wishes the film had focused on instead. His point-of-view and involvement in the Indonesian gold search proves a far more compelling watch than Wells’s actions.

Bryce Dallas Howard, meanwhile, is a delight as Wells’s wife. As underwritten as she is, Howard makes the most of her screen time and brings a bubby presence to a film that is otherwise rather tedious. One wishes the rest of Gold could catch up to her spark. One begins to warm up to the movie when the focus shifts to her dealing with the new found wealth. Elsewhere, the script jumps through a series of comedic scenes that never stick. The editing is all over-the-place and at times confusing in how it tries to depict the events of this story.

With how slowly Gold draws out the details of Wells’s adventure, the mind starts to notice the heavy influences on the screen. There is not a single original directorial decision in the film as Gaghan clearly wants to make a Martin Scorsese film with a dash of David O. Russell. That’s a shame as Syriana featured an original directing voice to match the talented writer behind the pen. Gold does feel like something that has been steaming in the editing suite for far too long as the filmmakers tried to sort through the hours of footage and mount a cohesive narrative.

Despite Gold beginning with the familiar title card proclaiming it to be “based on a true story”, not much is really gleamed from the real life case that inspired the film. This should have been an ensemble film or rather one focused on Wells’s partner in crime, but it mostly exists as a starring vehicle for McConaughey. His over-the-top performance overtakes the picture with the actor playing the part far too broadly. Maybe another trip to the editing room would have fixed the languid pacing or that could have been the central issue. There could have been an interesting story made out of these events, but it’s hard to care when the more interesting participants are pushed to the wayside.


Stefan Ellison

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