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Matthew McConaughey is All That Glitters in ‘Gold’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The relish that Matthew McConaughey displays in creating his latest character in “Gold,” a Willy Loman-type mining exec who is looking for his biggest score, is most of the reason to experience the film. However, there isn’t exactly a motherlode when it comes to the story.

In a sort-of “Treasure of Sierra Madre” meets “Wall Street,” the scenario of “Gold” is an insider’s (and based on a true) tale of a large gold strike in Indonesia, which mostly benefits the financiers far away in New York City. McConaughey’s character is like the go-between, as he fights for his (and his partner’s) well-earned prospecting rights to the mine. And like his physical transformation in “Dallas Buyers Club,” McConaughey alters his look – this time into an overweight and balding hustler. He carries the film on his back like an overworked mule, but like that animal can’t maintain any consistent pace when the journey is incomplete and full of holes. There isn’t any gold standard in “Gold.”

Kenny Wells (McConaughey) is running his father’s successful mining company into the ground. He is literally sweating his next move, and actually steals back a necklace from his girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) to raise enough money to finance his latest venture…a possible gold strike in Indonesia, facilitated by a master prospector, Acosta (Edgar Ramirez).

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The Bulky Artist: Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells in ‘Gold’
Photo credit: TWC-Dimension

The partners start the meticulous process of trying to find the precious metal in rough territory, and despite setbacks and malaria, strike gold. This starts the interest from financiers in New York City, represented by Brian Wolff (Corey Stoll), and causes Kenny to be wary of both their motivations and the rights to the mine, and it becomes a power struggle.


Matthew McConaughey gives a whirling dervish of a performance, he practically turns inside out portraying the chain smoking Kenny, and he famously put on 45 pounds to create more of the character. Despite all this, the story is not equal to the performance, and sometimes the actor’s interpretation seemed floating around it all in a strange, almost nonsensical way. Will there be a scene where he practically dances like a crazy old timey prospector? “It’s the motherlode!” screams Kenny at one point.

The supporting cast had an inconsistency that matched the inauthenticity. Bryce Dallas Howard as Kay wants to be supportive to her megalomaniac boyfriend, and knows what she signed up for, but when he strikes it rich that’s when she has doubts? Darling, take a trip to Tahiti on his dime and think about it. Edgar Ramirez as Acosta seems to have one expression, both in finding gold (at least Kenny celebrated hard enough!) and having doubts about finding gold – it’s the same blank face (except at the Stock Exchange, see below).

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Acosta (Edgar Rodriguez, left) and Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) Smile on the Stock Exchange in ‘Gold’
Photo credit: TWC-Dimension

What was interesting, and motivated the whole last third of the film, was the far-off investors in New York, and how they were convinced to put beaucoup bucks into the dreamer’s pocket. This was the “Wall Street” part of the story, and it featured a lot of tail chasing. What are moneymen but gamblers? Both those mentalities match up perfectly. Get the big mining strike – or even a taste or it – and the artifice of the stock market takes over, creating money upon money. Corey Stoll as Wolff (was that his real name?) personified the ups and downs of this stress-inducing profession, and took the brunt of paying the price…literally.

“All right all right all right!”…it is required to say that in reference to anything that Matthew McConaughey wraps his essence around. It is a sound catchphrase (thanks, “Dazed and Confused”) and a proper life philosophy for an actor that will sweat 110% into a role, even though in this case that rich vein is beyond that grasp.

”Gold” opens everywhere on January 27th. Featuring Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Bill Camp and Craig T. Nelson. Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. Directed by Stephan Gaghan. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Writer, Editorial Coordinator
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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