If you’re a fan of Matthew McConaughey, his latest film Gold will leave you gobsmacked at his transformation into Las Vegas gold prospector Kenny Wells. Forget about former stripper Dallas in Magic Mike – he is long gone, replaced by a pot-bellied, chain smoking, balding, heavy drinking, failing businessman.
Image: Gold Facebook page.
Directed by Stephen Gaghan, a screenwriter with credits that include Academy Award winner Traffic, Gold is a crime-adventure film that tells the story of Wells and his journey from a dogged, desperate gold miner searching fruitlessly for investors, to becoming the king of the gold mining world, only to see it all come crashing down again. The story begins with Kenny working alongside his father in the early 1980s, but it’s a different story several years later when the corporate office space is gone as he and his colleagues chase investor leads for their failing Washoe Mining Company from a dingy bar.
It’s loosely based on the true story of the Bre-X Minerals Ltd. collapse, in which share prices went through the roof when the company ‘discovered’ gold in Indonesia, only for the samples to be revealed as fraudulent some years later.
Kenny Wells is unlike any other character McConaughey has played before. For a start, the physical transformation is nothing short of astounding. His character is somewhat uncomfortable to watch – even cringe-worthy at times, with his over-the-top mannerisms, cheap suits and sweat-riddled balding forehead completely juxtaposed with the corporate world he finds himself thrust into. At the same time, he's mesmerizing, with those same mannerisms representative of a desperate, flawed, yet naïve individual simply chasing a dream to prove everyone wrong.
The film takes place in the desert surrounds of Las Vegas and in the jungle of Indonesia, where the gold deposit is discovered. Wells teams up with famed geologist Michael Acosta, the current ‘golden boy’ of mining, played by Spanish actor Edgar Ramirez, who is skeptical of this crazy idealist, but agrees to join Wells on his journey regardless.
Image: Gold Facebook page.
Wells is the type of character you can’t help but feel for. It’s obvious that McConaughey has committed to the role, and he is clearly the shining beacon of light in an otherwise undeveloped cast of characters. It would have been beneficial to the plot to learn more about his co-workers and Wells’ long-time partner Kay, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, but the film leaves a few too many questions about them. It places most of the emphasis on the unfolding events, rather than the impact of those events on individuals and families, but with Wells as the central character and his story at the forefront, it’s hard to fit much else into an already packed plot.
Gold is a intriguing look at the world of gold mining in the late 1980s and a candid inside into the overwhelming corporate greed running rife during the time. McConaughey’s portrayal of Wells and his physical transformation are the stars in this rollercoaster ride of highs, lows and gold.