Rated R
121 Minutes
Released January 27

Gold is loosely based on a true, very complicated account took place from the late 1980’s into the 1990’s. What happens when a geologist – a dreamer and treasure-seeker with the personality of a Disney pirate – goes looking for a source of gold in the hills deep in Indonesia and ends up swinging high on the sails of the volatile stock market? In reality, the geologist, John Felderhof, advised a mineral company to buy a mine in a jungle in Indonesia based on his estimates of the gold it contained. His project manager at the site, Filipino geologist Michael de Gusman, corroborated Felderhof’s estimate with evidence he collected from the site.

In this movie the story is skillfully simplified by screenwriters Patrick Massett, John Zinman and Stephan Gaghan, to highlight emotional arcs, develop a delicious mystery and leave some dangling questions for the audience to answer in their own imaginations. Felderhof’s character is “Kenny Wells” in this film and is played with aplomb by Matthew McConnaughey. McConnaughey gained 40 pounds for the role and inhabits a character larger than life, as big a drinker as he is a dreamer. Edgar Ramirez creates a persona who is a great counterpoint foil to Kenny, in his portrayal of “Michael Acosta”, the de Gusman character. He is the more sensible and pragmatic, the more elegant and handsome, of the two. As the story unravels, we are left to surmise if either is to be trusted.

Director Stephen Gaghan noted in the Q&A following the screening that he was attracted to the script immediately and saw no one other than McConnaughey in the lead role. To shoot the film, the cast and crew had to live through the same hazardous conditions these characters endured: flooding, heat and insects, in the jungles of Thailand. One day they woke up to find that whole set that they had spent days building was completely under water. The filmmakers that Gaghan has assembled for this project are some of the best in the business, many from both film and TV.

This movie is worth seeing on three levels. It’s a fun adventure story that showcases excellent work by the actors in their portrayals of highly unusual characters. It will keep you guessing from minute to minute. It’s also a wake up call in the sense that a self-styled entrepreneur could ignite gold fever in so many individuals based on his claim, with no solid evidence, that the mine he discovered had the potential to deliver 30 to 45 million ounces of gold. Profit-hungry investors caused the stock price of the mining company to balloon from 30 cents to $187 a share. People tend to believe information they hear if it’s simply communicated with confidence – and if it’s what they want to hear. It’s smart right now to remember a translation of a Russian proverb used by Ronald Reagan regarding nuclear disarmament, we all need to “Trust, but Verify.” Always check the facts!

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

 

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