Matthew McConaughey in a scene from the movie Gold.
Matthew McConaughey in a scene from the movie Gold. Lewis Jacobs

MOVIE REVIEW: Gold movie scores a bronze or silver at best

MATTHEW McConaughey had a scene-stealing minor role in The Wolf of Wall Street as the trader who indoctrinates Leonardo DiCaprio's character into stockbroking culture through a bizarre display of chest-thumping.

McConaughey thrives on parts that allow him to portray pumped-up American aspiration and it's more of the same in Gold, a movie inspired by one of the biggest frauds in mining history.

The sweaty rascal he plays, Kenny Wells, sees him uglying-up to the max: he's recessive of hair, paunchy of belly, snaggle of tooth and sporting regrettable taste in neckties.

It's 1988 and Wells heads up a failing Nevada mining company that's reduced to operating out of a public bar. Pawning some jewellery belonging to his wife Kay (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Wells journeys to Indonesia on a hunch that an old contact, Mike Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), can help him prospect for a viable gold mine.

Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez in a scene from the movie Gold.
Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez in a scene from the movie Gold. Patrick Brown

After a number of setbacks comes phenomenal success and Wells finds himself courted by larger companies wanting in on the action - not to mention gold-diggers of the other kind, personified by Rachel (Rachael Taylor, her charms set to stun). But it turns out that not everything that glitters is ... well, you know.

The director is Stephen Gaghan, who has an affinity for high-stakes thrillers drawn from the headlines. He won an Oscar for writing the Steven Soderbergh film Traffic and directed George Clooney to another Oscar in Syriana.

Unfortunately there have been several great movies about Wall Street fraud lately - most recently, The Big Short. So this movie, though well made, plays like a pale version of a story we've been told before.

It's ironic, too, that such a tale of flimflammery contains only a small nugget of resemblance to the events that inspired it, which happened in the 1990s in Canada. When the line between bullion and bull is deliberately obscured, moviegoers can feel cheated on their investment.

Gold opens nationally tomorrow.



Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll.

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Rating: M

Verdict: 3/5 stars

News Corp Australia

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