Gold is a movie at war with itself. Not sure who to place the blame on here, much of the fault lies in Matthew McConaughey’s central performance but such problems should have been obvious throughout the whole process. It’s not a bad performance, on the surface it’s as accomplished as any of his recent work. He’s committed to this character and seems to bring an honest interpretation of this guy in his choices. It’s nice in a way, seeing an accomplished actor engaging in a critical reading of the character they portray throughout a text. The problem is that the character appearing in the film is such a vile, odious, repellent, gross monster that all one wants to do is stop watching him.
He’s called Kenny Wells and owns a failing mining company, whose prospects turn around after finding the motherlode of natural gold deposits in an Indonesian dig after having thrown every last cent of his into the operation. He is not well liked, nor respected. By his co-workers, by his peers, his family, even those trying to enact business deals with him treat him with obvious disdain. You get their point of view, his inevitable meteoric fall cannot come soon enough. When it does the fact that this guy is getting his comeuppance is such sweet succour.
It could be argued as a deconstruction, like, what if The Wolf of Wall Street showed Belfort in an accurate light? What if we got a script told from an objective point of view, and a portrayal not tied to Leo DiCaprio’s ever-present sense of self-consciousness? Turns out honest representations of capitalist monstrosity do not make for enjoyable viewing, which could make for an interesting statement if the film had any room for reflection upon it. The ending defeats any suggestion of this though, so stupid I recon it was probably a last minute addition. Throwing away any possibility of introspection for empty sentiment.
On the brighter side Édgar Ramírez and Bryce Dallas Howard are charming as his business partner and wife respectively. Again, it’s impossible to comprehend why the act the way they do around Wells. I mean, from the context we know they’re enthralled by this down home, simple, workmanlike charm that is never once demonstrated by his character. The only one reacting right is Corey Stoll who puts in the work as an investment banker trying to manage the finances, whenever he comes on screen the humanity is refreshing.
It that the problem? It’s probably one of the best ways to put it. It’s an inhumane film, one which completely understands to capture the present humanity. Too tied down to the story it thinks it is trying to tell to recognise the truth captured in this performance at the centre. A performance which then ruins the rest of the film around it by blatantly highlighting the artifice of the form.
I fear that last description there made the film sound too interesting. I know if I read that I’d probably be curious. Let me again stress, this is an unpleasant film. It is a bad film. And there is no amount of cogent analysis that could make the experience of watching worth it. Best not to bother.