By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
Gold: An Outrageous McConaughey Performance Combined With an Unfulfilled Script
Gold is the newly released film from Stephen Gaghan, a writer turned director, whose past successes include Traffic, Syriana, and Rules of Engagement. The movie served as his directorial introduction with a vast amount of tools. These devices include Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Bruce Greenwood, and of course Matthew McConaughey. The narrative focuses on Kenny Wells: a middle-aged, average looking, failed gold prospector who focuses all of his efforts on a mine in Indonesia that due to his eager geologist Michael Acosta he has decided to invest in its vast possibilities of infinite wealth. After, he succeeds with the discovery of the largest gold mine in the last decade the film then focuses on Kenny’s relations, internal conflicts, and business battles. This emphasis on Kenny’s life provokes thoughtful questions on greed, inheritance, entitlement, success, and the American dream.
Gold is a well-produced, well shot, and well-performed film with an additive of congenial direction. However, with what the film succeeds in technically it equally fails in connectivity with the script. Let me explain, first of all, the technical aspects of this film are exceptional. The direction captures the rugged and rural environment of Indonesia that reflects the troublesome efforts that go into prospecting for gold. The shot setup is done exceptionally in how Stephen Gaghan creates this setting of wealth, and how he dissects the transitions to create a sense of complexity in Kenny’s character developments. The production is also well done in the efforts to produce a feeling of realism in the setting. Matthew McConaughey shines in this film with a different and intriguing performance that separates itself from all of his past performances.
His efforts of focusing on creating this character that reflects sliminess and hustling. He put on about 48 pounds of weight, and he got his haircut to think as if he is losing his hair. It is such a character driven performance that is pure ingenuity driven to create a dynamic and high range performance. With all of these exceptional technical aspects, you’d expect the narrative to be riveting. The film core falls apart based on its screenplay. In my opinion, the script fails to create a sense of importance to the plot’s developments and character developments. The characters fail, particularly on the character developments. The collective failure across the screenplay on supporting characters is understandable due to the narratives focus on McConaughey’s character. But, the lack of development for McConaughey’s character creates confusion with the elaboration of the plot.
First, of the character itself is incredibly hard to you relate to due to his unlikability unless you as a person value agreed at a high level as the character does. The character arc is almost incredibly irrelevant because he as a character doesn’t change instead he just learns new things about the events that take place throughout the film. He learns the reasoning behind certain plot developments and still fails to change as a character. The narrative itself also failed to connect with me. I feel as if the complexity of the integrity of the film fails to reveal itself to the public, due to its lack of fluidity and importance of plot developments.
In summary, Gold contains high-quality technical aspects that reflect the effort put into the construction of this film that allow you to earn respect for it. However, the lack of importance, connectivity, and relatability fail to create a sense of need for this film which leaves me as audience member feeling lackluster and as if we might have just wasted our time at the theater.
Jennings: Mr. Kenny Wells, why don’t you start from the beginning.
Kenny Wells: [voice over] It was April, ’88. I’d lost my house. I lost everything. I was on the balls of my ass, scrambling. Most people would have been dead, but not me. I had a dream. Gold. Just haven’t found it yet.