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Gold (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 120 minutes including credits

OK for children

When a film starts with the statement that the film is “inspired by true events” I normally take what I then view with a grain of salt. However the fictionalization of what actually happened is so well done by writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman and director Stephen Gaghan that is not only appropriate, but necessary to make this story cinematic and as compelling as it is.

It’s highlighted by an over-the-top performance by Oscar®-winner Matthew McConaughey and equally good performances by Edgar Ramirez and Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron’s daughter), bolstered by a terrific supporting cast.

Kenny Wells (McConaughey) is a peripatetic prospector for gold, who has inherited his profession from his prospector father. He will do anything and go to any lengths to find a great gold strike. He eventually teams up with Mike Acosta (Ramirez), a renowned geologist, and they set out to find a gold strike in the jungles of Indonesia. What follows is in line with what actually happened, although the people involved were not named Wells and Acosta, and the prime mover was not an American.

McConaughey got involved even before the director was chosen because he had read the script that were similar with two personal experiences with which he identified. One was his father going to some character named Chicago John from whom he bought a $24,000 titanium Rolex watch for $4000, and the Kenny Wells character reminded him of Chicago John. Also, his father had invested in a diamond mine in the jungles of Ecuador, not unlike the jungles of Indonesia where Kenny Wells creates his mine.

 So McConaughey was in, even before director Gaghan. Watching McConaughey emote throughout this film, it’s easy to see how committed he was to the project, because he gives a remarkable performance in addition to changing his physical appearance.

The cinematography of the time in the jungle is beautiful. Good story, good movie.