If you take a 1000-piece puzzle, put it in front of a small child and watch said child put it together for two hours, that’s what it’s like to watch the movie Gold.
It’s not too often I see a movie starring big name actors like Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Edgar Ramirez that is horribly pieced together and where the storytelling fails at almost every turn. And that’s a shame because Gold is on my list of most anticipated movies of 2017 and that anticipation died at the end credits.
While McConaughey fully commits to the role, gaining weight, putting on fake teeth and a bald wig, and performs the best he can, the shoddy storytelling, direction, editing and cinematography overshadows any effort he puts in.
Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman and directed by Stephen Gaghan, Gold tells the story of Kenny Mills (McConaughey), a prospector seeking out his next big find. When he’s down on his luck, he teams up with a geologist (Ramirez) who believes there’s gold in the jungles of Indonesia. Eager to make it rich and prove everyone wrong, they sacrifice everything to build their own gold mine in the middle of the jungle.
After a couple of big years in 2013 and 2014, McConaughey seems to be grasping at straws, desperate to rekindle the magic he once had, but failing at every turn. Gold, no doubt, feels like it could have been a smashing success and another movie to showcase his range and skills as an actor. To some degree, he succeeds.
Even though his character is unlikable and a little bit of a slime ball, McConaughey sells him, making him an interesting and charming piece to the puzzle. He’s the kind of character you aren’t supposed to necessarily like, but one you want to root for and empathize with. Unfortunately, while his acting is without question a solid piece to puzzle, the rest of the movie ruins his strong performance.
Don’t get me wrong — the scenes in Gold are competently produced and there’s clearly a semblance of a story trying to be told. But it’s the execution and piecing together of those scenes that fall apart. Sometimes they don’t feel like a collective whole.
The pacing and tone are all over the board and filler scenes abound. You can always tell if pacing is off when, by the third act, a scene cuts to black and you internally beg for the movie to be over but then groan when it fades back in. Gold had about two or three endings like this, straining the storytelling and losing any grasp it might have had on the audience.
A story is a lot like piecing together a linear puzzle that works cohesively from start to finish. About half way through Gold, there’s a randomly inserted scene of Mills being interviewed by a group of men, talking to them like his story was in the past. Nothing is explained about this scene, clearly to keep the audience in the dark, but it’s so shoe-horned in that you’re left wondering why in the world it exists at all. It completely takes you out of the story. Only later do you realize who he is talking to and why, but by then you don’t care. It makes no sense why it was put in later and I’m sure the filmmakers thought it would be a clever idea at the last minute, but didn’t put any real thought into it. This is just one example of the many problems in Gold.
I could go on about the clichés or the grainy cinematography or the bizarre cuts or the constant fading in and out between scenes or the awkward music, but I won’t. Sometimes I see movies like this and I say something like, “The story has potential, but it just doesn’t work.” This time I don’t even think the story has potential, and, honestly, I’m not convinced we need any more rags to riches movies. While McConaughey puts on a strong performance, there’s nothing else in Gold except fool’s gold.
Photos courtesy of: TWC-Dimension