“… Gold is like an elevator. You move up and down sure, but you don’t go anywhere.”
Gold is a movie that came out of nowhere, only making itself known to me with a very intriguing trailer I saw in the movie theatre some time ago, and then disappeared just as abruptly. Gold is a movie that stars Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells, the owner of a near-broke mining company in Reno, Nevada. Throwing a Hail Mary, Wells decides to seek out an old acquaintance named Michael Acosta who Wells remembers as a very intelligent, almost clairvoyant minor who always knows exactly where to dig. After selling everything he owns, travelling to Indonesia, and fighting off malaria for a while Wells’ bet pays off and the pair strike gold. Gold is “based on true events”, but as far as I know that pretty much only extends to “there was a guy one time who found gold”.
Watching Gold was an almost bizarre experience. I knew that I was watching a movie, and Gold knew that it was a movie, but for some reason it just didn’t feel like a movie. The story that I was watching unfold was barely a story at all, instead rather mundane scenes connected by characters that I didn’t care about. Gold starts off with a successful mining company, but then cuts to eight years later where that same mining company is in the shitter. What happened in between? Fuck if I know. Gold assumes that we will follow this story blindly and not ask questions; but even when I followed that advice I was still lost. The movie features some weird voice-overs by McConaughey that kind of tell you what is going on, but it’s more like he’s just narrating what you are seeing on screen. When we were introduced to Kenny Wells it wasn’t in a way that made us feel one particular emotion. I know now that the film kind of wanted Wells to be the hero of the story, but the way that they presented the character didn’t convey that at all. Wells is kind of a scumbag, but yet everyone around him lauds him as a saint. His girlfriend puts up with his endless amount of shit and people are willing to jump head-first into business deals with him. Maybe I’m not the best judge of character but the way that McConaughey plays Wells is not a way that inspires confidence; it’s more in line with him making your skin crawl. That being said I didn’t hate the guy, so I was left in this weird purgatory of feelings where nothing mattered because I didn’t care. This continues throughout the film and honestly it’s kind of exhausting. Some people like to call exhilarating movies “roller coasters”, putting forth a metaphor wherein the story takes you on a journey of ups and downs and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Gold had ups and downs, but unlike a roller coaster it didn’t have any forward momentum; a better metaphor would be to say that Gold is like an elevator. You move up and down sure, but you don’t go anywhere. The best metaphor would be to say that Gold is like riding an elevator while depressed; you go up and down but you really don’t care about any of it.
Despite this fact Gold still tries to throw you curveballs every once in a while like the “reveal” halfway through the film that the voiceovers we had been hearing are actually from Wells speaking to the FBI. This would have been a great way to start the movie because then you get the intrigue right off the bat, but instead we had to wade through the shit at the start to get to this (somewhat) interesting point. You would think that this part of the film would mark a turning point for the story wherein everything starts to go wrong, but you would be wrong. Gold continues on with its boring self, not even salting to touch on why Wells would be speaking to the FBI if everything with his mining company is going so well. At least it explained the voiceover, right? Anyway Gold keeps on keeping on until it finally ends. Well it doesn’t just end, it presents this plot twist that literally came out of fucking nowhere and only leaves about 10 minutes for us to wrap our heads around it. Plot twists in movies are a great tool, but they can also be very cheap. This is an example of a cheap plot twist. One that literally came out of nowhere, and had almost no connection to the rest of the story. I could write a love story about a couple who lives on a farm. This couple met when they were 10 years old, both from abusive homes, and they found safety in each other. They grew up, growing apart briefly but then realizing that they truly do belong with one another. They finally meet up and by a lovely farm and grow old together. Just as the story is about to be wrapped up and the screen is fading to black, a giant worm emerges from the earth and eats them both with one gulp. See? I can write sweet plot twists too!
As far as everything else in the film goes, there isn’t much to talk about. I found Mcconaughey’s performance to be the best one in the film (which isn’t really saying much). Even though he was supposed to be the good guy, I found McConaughey’s performance as a slimy, shitty businessman to be wonderful. You really got a feel for how terrible this dude is, even if that wasn’t the intention. Everyone else in the movie was there too. Gold also features a pretty great soundtrack highlighting a lot of lesser known songs form the 80’s. This was great and I legitimately enjoyed it, but the problem was most of the songs just didn’t fit in the movie. It’s like they were there just for the sake of being there, and it made this already bizarre movie even weirder.
Overall Gold was not a good movie. During a time when we seem to get a “based on a true story” movie every two weeks, I feel it’s safe to skip this one.
I give Gold a D