Warning: If you watch Matthew McConaughey movies for his stellar body, this is not the movie for you.
Gaining over forty pounds for the role, McConaughey transforms into balding, beer-bellied Kenny Wells — a man who craves gold more than life itself.
The movie begins with Kenny Wells inheriting his father’s mining company, but having neither patience nor skill, he finds himself in such a low position bankers refuse to invest in his operations. He then decides to partner with geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) and search for gold in Indonesia. Once the partners strike gold, the movie becomes more fast-paced and focused on the scandal and greed behind the American Dream.
Personally, I adored the strange relationship between Wells and Acosta. Besides their joyous moments, where they scream and embrace over their success, they also have many moments where Acosta rejects Wells’ sentimentality. Wells tells Acosta he “went looking for gold, [and] found a friend,” to which Acosta responds, “That is the single hokiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Their unlikely friendship adds humour to some of the more serious aspects of the film.
Although there were moments of humour throughout the film, the movie’s main downfall was a lack of character development. Besides Kenny Wells, every character felt hollow, stereotypical, or just completely flat. In many scenes, McConaughey takes control of his character; he pounds on tables, lets out light groans in his car, laughs hysterically at touching a tiger, and makes inappropriate remarks. Even though his character is repulsive, he captures his craving for gold and truly embodies his character.
On the contrary, most other characters appear as objects for McConaughey to act around. Even though Wells and Acosta are a team, Acosta remains silent throughout almost every scene — a presence reminding us of his importance, but not a character to care about. In no ways am I suggesting the other actors performed poorly, but rather that the director, Stephen Gaghan, relied too heavily on McConaughey to carry this movie on his sweat-stained back.
With that said, McConaughey’s performance alone made this movie entertaining. If you’re a McConaughey fan like me and want to admire his talent, definitely watch this movie. His character is so repulsive, you can’t look away. Beyond his character, the plot and exposition will still keep you entertained.
I refuse to be a spoiler, but I will say this: Gold has a twist that pulls you back into the story in case you start falling out.
Despite the harsh reviews, this movie is engaging and worth at least one watch if you’re a McConaughey fan. But don’t get your hopes up; it won’t make anyone’s top 10.