Gold, movie, review, McConaughey

Gold (2017) – Review

It’s probably fair to say the McConaissance is over. Which isn’t a bad thing like it sounds, it just means Matthew has reached the point in his comeback where his being really good is no longer a surprise – we generally expect him to be in good movies and probably be one of the best things about them. Of course, the point of the whole thing being dubbed the ‘McConaissance’ in the first place wasn’t to do with him being a bad actor come good, it was to do with him switching from being in bad movies to good ones. Take a look at The Newton Boys, Dazed and Confused, Amistad – he’s always been a decent actor.

I specifically say the McConaissance is over now because Gold feels like the film that’s finally bucked the trend. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just an unremarkable one. It’s going to arrive in cinemas and leave without much of an afterthought – handily, the telly is probably the best place for it.

McConaughey is certainly the most interesting thing going on here. He puts in another really impressive and committed (not to mention unflattering) performance as Kenny Wells, a desperate gold prospector on his last legs loosely based on a real person in a story loosely based on a real one. For that reason it’s a bit odd that he went through such a weight-gaining transformation when he wasn’t even basing it on anyone, but you can’t fault the results. While maybe a touch overplayed, the performance is much better than the film, and gives it legs when it otherwise would have struggled to find any kind of lift off.

Not to say Gold is without any of its own merits, but it really struggles to shake off an undeserved air of self importance. The story plays out like something we’ve seen a thousand times before: the rise and fall and rise and fall of the ambitious, eccentric businessman who drinks too much, gets seduced by greed and alienates those who love him. In the case of Gold it’s even more of a problem because on the one hand, it treats this formula as if its the first film to do it, yet on the other, ironically, the story itself just doesn’t have any real substance. Do we really care about this guy’s problems? Do we really care that he’s found a bunch of gold and lets the power go to his head? Do we really care if he wins or loses? There’s nothing sympathetic about Wells – despite McConaughey’s engaging performance – and in the end the film suffers because of it.


There are some decent things in Gold – chiefly an engaging central performance (that really deserves a better film and earns most of that third star) – but it’s a bit too derivative and vain for its own good. If it pops up on Netflix one Sunday afternoon, give it a watch, but it’s not really worth a trip to the movies.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


1 Comment

  • HACKSAW RIDGE (2017) - REVIEW - Lights Overhead February 7, 2017 at 9:48 pm:

    […] I talked about the commitment of Matthew McConaughey’s performance in my recent review of Gold – but this is commitment of a completely different kind. Rather than putting himself […]


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