Stephen Gaghan’s Gold is a wild if familiar, sort-of-true-story saga about modern gold prospectors who risk it all in the Indonesian jungle for the pursuit of extreme fortune. Matthew McConaguhey’s over-sized and maybe-too-method performance is the big reason to see this film; if you’re a fan of him as an actor then his oily, greasy, bloodshot, and nearly constantly cocked performance will be a big hoot. Edgar Ramirez gives his usual fine support, and there’s a bunch of familiar faces in the background. But this is the McConaguhey show all the way, with the actor gesticulating like a mad-man while rocking a tragic receding hairline, his puffy face covered in flop sweat in almost every scene, and looking thoroughly toxic and grotesque in nearly every instance; he’s a personal pigsty and I thought it was priceless to observe. Robert Elswit’s fantastic widescreen cinematography is the other big standout in Gold; he’s one of the best, most varied shooters in the business and Elswit gives every sequence of this film a really cool visual atmosphere with some really thoughtful camera angles.
Patrick Massett and John Zinman’s zig-zagging and incident-packed script feels at times borrowed from other “process” narratives and there’s certainly a whiff of cliché running throughout the film’s narrative bones, but I thought this was a raggedly stylish movie that had a certain boozy bravado that kept in interesting if never truly special. It reminds of The Wolf of Wall Street and Blow but lacking some of the pizzazz and amoral laughs those films provided. And when you go and read about the real scandal involving the Canadian mining company Bre-X, you can see how some of the more outlandish moments that happen in the film actually occurred in real life, and how other bits of insanity were jettisoned maybe out of fear of being perceived as too over the top. Daniel Pemberton’s blustery score certainly added some oomph; ditto the tunes on the 80’s-centric soundtrack. Various director and star combos were attached at various stages, while the finished film elicited mixed critical reviews and tepid theatrical box office returns. Gold is now available on Blu-ray/DVD and streamable through various providers.