“The ride had begun, and what a goddamn’ ride…”
‘Inspired by true events’ is very different from ‘based on a true story’. ‘Gold’ belongs to the first category, a blend of actual events and pure fiction (click here for more info). Sometimes this can work, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case the film is more like ‘Joy‘ or ‘War Dogs‘ than ‘Spotlight‘ or ‘The Big Short‘ – although there is serious acting going on, the film never really lands.
With little momentum in the plot, the fall-rise-fall of Kenny Wells (McConaughey) doesn’t really do much entertaining. In fact, due to the combination of his physical transformation (loss of hair & gaining of much weight) along with his commitment to the character, McCaughey creeps across the screen in an immensely repulsive manner. His Kenny is irredeemable and without warmth – sleazy, maniac and hollow. Arguably it’s a commendable performance as it evokes such a reaction from the audience but it’s a physically demanding, high-energy performance than cannot be matched by his fellow cast members or the film itself.
Ramírez does a solid job but this does not make up for the fact there is zero bromantic chemistry between them (at least Teller & Hill had that going for them in ‘War Dogs’). Dallas Howard is unquestionably wasted as a bimbo-waitress-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype. Stroll does his best creep with an agenda but gets little opportunity to make an impact. These characters appear and disappear in an episodic manner with little rhyme or reason.
The best thing about the film, and the bit about it that makes least sense, is it’s soundtrack. The events the film is based on took place in the 90s. For the sake of the film – and most likely the soundtrack – they were relocated in the film to the 80s. These episodes of hedonistic pointlessness are soundtracked by the likes of Joy Division, Orange Juice, Iggy Pop, New Order, Talking Heads, The Pixies and Iggy Pop. Unfortunately this 24 carat soundtrack is forced to accompany a film that is as expendable as plastic.
‘Gold’ opened in UK cinemas on 3rd February.
Year: 2017 Run time:120 minutes Dir: Stephen Gaghan