If Gina Rinehart’s autobiography gave you the warm and fuzzies, you may wanna bring a spare pair of pants along to this one.
Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is your average blue-collar Joe, slumming it as the successor to his father’s successful mining company. When he nearly sinks the company, he takes a wild punt on claims by geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) and heads to Indonesia to seek a fortune.
Gold desperately wants to be The Wolf Of Wall Street, a serious Academy Award nominee; one that furthers the unstoppable McConaissance and tells the captivating story of an inspiring, though flawed individual.
What it has instead is McConaughey as an Oscar-bait Louie The Fly, in an aggressively awful biopic with a cliché bloated screenplay reliant on a tale with no inherent worth. From its hacky narration to its narrative jumps, its poor plotting, its amateur soundtracking, its unforgivable dialogue and its utterly morally repugnant core, there is not one positive thing to say about this entire film. The use of Pixies’ ‘Hey’ and Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ in this film actually makes one like both bands less; it’s almost comforting to know Ian Curtis will never see it.
What’s worse is that screenwriters John Zinman and Patrick Massett, both graduates of Friday Night Lights and Caprica, know all this and try to act nonchalant about it. They dump the worst line of dialogue we’re likely to hear in 2017, then try to act like it’s a character note:
Wells: “You went looking for bauxite and found copper. I went looking for gold and found a friend.”
Acosta: “That is the single hokiest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Fuck you, guys. We know. You really don’t need to tell us.
Strap yourself in for the most predictable ride of your life, into the jungles of Indonesia, where the moment a shot of the canopy emerges, so do those oh-so-ethnic jungle drums. Witness as inconsistent make-up and misaligned camera lenses obscure the uninspired, functional framing of each shot. Watch as the Golden Globe-nominated Bryce Dallas Howard shuffles through her few lines as a materialist airhead, even wincing out of character when her co-star plants a smooch on her lips. Lament as she’s replaced with an even less developed female object, Rachael Taylor, subbed in just for a hot tub sequence. The only stylistic flair shown is in two sequences where windows muffle the dialogue, giving us a moment’s reprieve from the script.
Meanwhile, the film does everything it can to romanticise mining and the valuable work of stockbrokers. Wells “doesn’t care about money, he cares about gold”, which is a statement the writers clearly thought profound. He also doesn’t care about profiting off underpaid workers, or the fact that he ends up bankrolling a genocidal dictator, but it’s fine, because neither do the filmmakers.
Their focus is on ensuring that McConaughey is holding the box of Marlboro cigarettes the right way round; to show off that Winston logo when he feels like drawing back on something different. And boy, does Wells love smoking. Now who could possibly have bankrolled this two-hour ad?
As Wells shoves his paws in the faces of stockbrokers, saying “these are my father’s hands”, we’re not sure whether he’s bought into his own narrative or whether the filmmakers have forgotten that not once as he actually physically laboured in the film. It can’t be the former, as it would have been aggressively signposted. So when he inevitably wins, how could we possibly cheer for him? As in The Founder before it, does victory in business justify the means, or act as a substitute for character development?
Gold aspires to The Social Network, painting a revolutionary as a bit of a prick, but it fails in that conceit while being paced like a bowel movement on a fibre-free diet. Like Acosta’s mine, there is nothing at Gold’s core.
Gold opens in cinemas on Thursday February 2.