Review: Gold

8 10

PLOT: A down-on-his-luck businessman (Matthew McConaughey) teams up with a geologist (Edgar Ramirez) in the hopes of striking it rich deep in the jungles of Borneo.

REVIEW: The early images released from Stephen Gaghan’s GOLD mildly misrepresented the film. The first, widely circulated photo (as seen below) showed Matthew McConaughey’s wild-eyed Kenny Wells exuberantly talking to Edgar Ramirez’s Michael Acosta deep in a jungle setting. This gave the impression that GOLD was a kind of adventure film, rather than the tale of big-money/eighties Wall Street wheeling and dealing that it really is. This is less MEDICINE MAN and more THE WOLF OF WALL STREET-lite (i.e – no cocaine).Having caught this several months ago, before the trailers, I went into GOLD not knowing what to expect, and the mostly negative reviews it’s gotten are confounding.

While not necessarily awards-caliber, this semi fact-based account of a major Wall Street scandal is compelling stuff, and anchored by another in a series of excellent McConaughey performances. His Kenny Wells is a tailor-made part, with him being a nice-enough sort who’s always one shot away from the big-time. In fact, he’s a lot like another recent The Weinstein Company-antihero, THE FOUNDER’s Ray Kroc, although when Wells gets successful he doesn’t really become an asshole – or well at least not a total asshole.

If there’s a fault to McConaughey’s performance, it’s one many early critics have seized upon – his reliance on gimmicks to make him less attractive. In GOLD, he not only gained a ton of weight (giving him a mighty beer belly my girlfriend was convinced was fake), but he also shaved his head to look bald and wears a snaggle tooth. Gaghan should have made him cut two of the props. Either play it fat, bald or snaggle toothed. Not all three Matthew.

In a way, the props have the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of making McConaughey disappear into the part, it takes a while to ignore the props and get into the character. It’s noteworthy that this happens fast, with McConaughey’s mad charisma not diminished by gimmicks too much, with Wells ultimately emerging as a sympathetic, compelling figure. By contrast, Ramirez has a much quieter part, as the rogue geologist McConaughey puts his trust in. You never really find out what makes him tick, but this is by design.

Beside the two leads, the supporting cast is stuffed to the brim with big names, with Bryce Dallas Howard very likable in an against-type part as McConaughey’s trashy but lovable and loyal girlfriend. Rachel Taylor plays the blond vixen who tries to come between them (McConaughey does his best to look unattractive – but money is the ultimate aphrodisiac for some). Others like Corey Stoll, Craig T. Nelson, and the always great Stacy Keach pop up here and there and add to the slickness of the whole package.

Gaghan also gets the most out of the eighties setting, with a soundtrack chockfull of cool period tracks – none of which are too obvious. It’s always cool seeing New Order and Depeche Mode show up in a movie. The photography by Robert Elswit is gorgeous, giving it an epic look. While the early buzz may not be the best, rest assured, GOLD is a terrific piece of adult entertainment, made on a scale that’s increasingly rare for non-blockbusters. It’s not an Oscar contender – but so what? Give it a chance; I’m sure you’ll be as entertained as I was.

Source: JoBlo.com



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