DIR: Stephen Gaghan • WRI: Patrick Massett, John Zinman • PRO: Patrick Massett, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Nozik, Teddy Schwarzman, John Zinman • DOP: Robert Elswit • ED: Douglas Crise, Rick Grayson • DES: Maria Djurkovic • MUS: Daniel Pemberton • CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard

Inspired by true events, Gold is the latest film by director Stephen Gaghan since 2005’s Syriana. This latest release stars Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey as down-on-his-luck businessman Kenny Wells, who is struggling to keep the family-run natural mineral business afloat after his father’s passing. Kenny’s troubles become forgotten when one night he dreams of a jungle forest in Indonesia that’s laden with gold. Pawning off his partner Kay’s (Bryce Dallas-Howard) jewellery, Kenny travels to Indonesia to meet up with geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez) to discuss the viability of turning his dream into reality.


Acosta agrees to assist Kenny in his pursuit of gold, which almost fails. Kenny falls ill with malaria and then recovers to hear the news that the dig has been successful and gold has been discovered. Kenny and Acosta attract new investors and the former’s Washoe Mining Company becomes listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company becomes an enormous success, until a rival industry interferes in the marketplace and the success dwindles. Kenny then attempts to salvage his once-again ailing company, retain his honour, and prevent his diminishing relationship with Kay from ending all together.


Firstly, with a running time of 121 minutes, Gold covers a lot of ground. Yet, its main problem is that it covers too much within that time and the frenetic editing prevents the fleshing out of certain plot points that should contribute greater dramatic effect to the film. Events such as Kenny’s father passing or his ailing relationship with Kay are skimmed over, carrying no dramatic weight in the process. The film’s introduction is too expository and Gold becomes almost too televisual. However, as the story progresses, the clumsy first act is ignored and the plot becomes more concise and effective.


Gold would fail without its leading man. McConaughey carries this film with his performance. His method acting approach, with him gaining weight and a resulting beer belly, contributes to the dishevelled character of Kenny Wells. He makes you sympathise with, and support, his character throughout the film. McConaughey now adds this sense of believability to each of the characters he portrays on-screen. Kenny becomes reminiscent of the McConaughey-portrayed characters in both 2014’s Dallas Buyers Club and the first season of HBO’s True Detective. Each character is determined to achieve their respective goals, which is aided by McConaughey’s incredible portrayal of that character. Edgar Ramírez delivers a solid performance as the mysterious Acosta, as does Bryce Dallas-Howard, who unfortunately is underutilised in Gold.


A special mention has to be given to music supervisor Linda Cohen for including songs that, on paper, would not compliment this film, but they do. Gold features a late ’70s/’80s soundtrack including the likes of Joy Division, New Order, Orange Juice, and a great version of ‘This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)’ by Talking Heads. There is also an impressive Golden Globe-nominated original song titled ‘Gold’, which is performed by Iggy Pop. The film unfortunately failed to include Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’, but the soundtrack is solid enough without it.


Overall, Gold begins on not such a good note and its editing and failure to focus and expand on specific plot points lets the film down. Despite this false start, the film delivers towards its conclusion. That delivery is a result of McConaughey’s performance and director Stephen Gaghan should consider himself very lucky to have enlisted McConaughey, who saves this film from becoming an overall disappointment. Gold becomes a shining example that the ‘McConaissance’ was not a fluke.

Liam Hanlon

120 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Gold is released 3rd February 2017

Gold – Official Website


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