Director Stephen Gaghan/2017
Matthew McConaughey is “all-in” on the latest film, Gold. Directed by Stephen Gaghan, who was also behind the George Clooney starring film, Syriana, this tells the tell of a down-on-his-luck prospector, looking to strike it rich, and get his family’s company back on top. McConaughey, felt a real connection with the script and took on the role of producer to help bring this tale to life. The question is whether he will find fool’s gold, or the real thing as this film hits the box office.
Kenny Wells (McConaughey) is a man who has seen his share of highs and lows. Taking over the company his father, Kenny Wells Sr. (Craig T. Nelson), had made a modest success of, after being in the family for four generations, Kenny Wells, Jr. is finding things aren’t quite panning out.
Fully committed to this role, Matthew McConaughey put on 40 lbs of weight eating cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and beer. He shaved his head, donned false teeth, and went all in to resemble the true-life person this character is loosely based on.
It is eight years after his father’s death, and now the company is working out of a bar where Kenny’s long-time girlfriend, Kay (Dallas Bryce Howard) is a waitress. Their search for gold, and other precious minerals, has been caught in an eight-year doldrums, and Kenny is desperate to hit it big. Having lost his house, and the company’s office, there is not much left before they lose Kay’s modest home where they have been living for some time.
Kenny pawns the beautiful watch he had given Kay years before to use to buy a plane ticket to Indonesia, having had a literal dream about it, to see if he can convince Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), a man who has had recent success, but whom has fallen on tough times, to do the dig to find this elusive gold.
Fully committed to this role, Matthew McConaughey put on 40 lbs of weight eating cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and beer. He shaved his head, donned false teeth, and went all in to resemble the true-life person this character is loosely based on. This new look is used a bit for laughs throughout the film as McConaughey takes some subtle jabs at his past sex-symbol status as he flaunts his not-so-attractive Kenny Wells look. This is whether that means hopping out of a hot tub all portly and naked, or laying in an open robe on a bed trying to woo Dallas Bryce Howard’s character, Kay.
Dallas Bryce Howard also showcases a larger frame than some might not be used to seeing her with. Having put on over 30 lbs for her project Black Mirror, she maintains some of that weight here, while allowing Kay to still look much more beautiful than McConaughey’s character. She will now transition back to a smaller frame in order to be ready for reprising her role as Claire in the upcoming Jurassic World sequel.
Gold rises above the lower expectations that January movies tend to have. It is a compelling story of desperation leading to riches and glory, before turning it all back on its head, making you question the pure motives of these characters that were professed so earnestly from the outset of the film.
Edgar Ramírez does a great job playing his character closer to the vest than the over-the-top antics of McConaughey’s Kenny Wells. His character, Michael Acosta, is more reserved, and portrays a respectful and sincere demeanor that makes him an odd business partner for the more charismatic Wells. This plays well as their hunt for gold starts attracting many large corporations who are all too eager to help Wells and Acosta’s small company handle a potentially large gold field…especially if they can use corporate maneuvering to outfox the more naive Kenny Wells and leave him with nothing.
McConaughey really strikes Gold with this new character, and even if the film is not the kind that would earn Oscar consideration to possibly match McConaughey’s win with Dallas Buyer’s Club, it is a lot of fun and shows just how far he has come in the once described “McConaissance”.
Gaghan does a good job of grounding the film firmly in the 1980’s without beating the audience over the head with references, or loud metaphorical neon-signs screaming “this is the 80’s!!!!”. Instead, we get more subtle hints of hair styles, fashion, home decor, and the like. Not as good as time-period flair of David O. Russell’s American Hustle, but enough to get the job done.
If Gold can find a way to get past the noise of all of the Oscar contenders that are starting to open in wider-release, and the box office doldrums that always strike in January, it may find a decent run as a fun comedy-drama, that is perfect for adult audiences looking for a fun escape. Hopefully, for McConaughey, who went all out this film, his gamble will pan out.