Why does this movie exist? What is the point of Gold having ever been made? I would genuinely like to know! Not only do I seriously question who the intended audience for this trainwreck is supposed to be, but I also have to marvel at the ineptitude with which the attendant pieces of the film were assembled. I marvel at Matthew McConaughey‘s involvement and have no idea how anyone at any level of development thought that screenplay was worthy to put into production. Gold is legitimately baffling.
McConaughey stars as Kenny Wells, a struggling businessman in the 1980s who teams up with a geologist named Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to set up a gold mine in Indonesia. And really, as far as story goes, that’s about it. Oh, sure, we see the extensive aftermath of the discovery of their mine, and we see Wells’ rises and falls in his health, relationships, and economic standing, but in the end, none of it really amounts to anything. The closest thing we get to a singular throughline to the dizzying ups and downs of Wells’ travel from rags to riches is watching McConaughey portray him as some sort of redneck cartoon character, and he showed more restraint in the two actually animated films he voiced last year.
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The main reason none of this works is because the screenplay and direction aren’t so much concerned with finding a thematic core to Wells’ story as they are with just presenting events as isolated incidents masquerading as a coherent plot. Consequently, the film’s tone is all over the place: One minute it’s a psychedelic fever dream inspired by Wells’ battle with malaria, the next it’s a somber meditation on the corrupting influence of greed, and another moment it’s a wacky farce emphasizing the eccentricities of the wealthy. It never settles into a groove where we understand anything about Wells as a person, nor are we able to connect with his story because it never grounds itself in one discernible reality.
The editing only further complicates the issue by not even ensuring that scenes flow into one another in a way that is emotionally consistent. The jarring transitions are lazily masked by the inclusion of montages and voice over narration, but it can’t disguise the fact that there is no point to what we are watching other than to just watch it. A framing device is introduced halfway through the film, which either exemplifies the complete incompetence of the editing staff or the rushed garbage fire this film fails to function as.
I hated Gold. You’re going to hate Gold. The best example of why is one monologue in the film’s final moments that McConaughey delivers beautifully, so much so that it feels like it belongs in a better film, and then the film takes that moment away by offering a final shot that completely undermines it. This movie is one of the most incompetently made things I’ve seen in theaters for a long while, and though moments of it may make you smile, you aren’t going to care enough to be invested.