Review / ‘Gold’ (M) *** and half

THE screenplay by Patrick Massett and John Zinman for Stephen Gaghan’s film purports to reconstruct the real-life, early-1990s Canadian Bre-X Minerals Ltd affair that caused unrestrained cupidity in stock exchanges all around the world. 

Matthew McConaughey in ‘Gold’

In fairness, the film’s three creators and its two principal actors have made a satisfactory fist of moving it back a decade and tweaking its tail just a little bit.

Finding out what that involves introduces Matthew McConaughey as prospector Kenny, desperate for a find (which is what prospecting is all about, isn’t it?) who joins forces with Mike (Edgar Ramirez) to investigate the geological so-called ring of fire surrounding the Pacific Ocean for a likely place to find gold, a metal that has driven more men mad than you can shake a shovel at.

And so it is, as Kenny and Mike endure jungles, rain, mud, malaria and isolation of an Indonesian valley to locate, prove and develop what the world was given to understand would be the biggest gold lode ever discovered.
The people who make money from gold are less the pick-and-shovel prospectors than the merchants who sell picks and shovels and the financial wizards who establish the financial entities necessary to cope with so much money.

The film pulls no punches dealing with those who got on those bandwagons. A suave Wall Street bunch skilled in finagling laws are its villains, together with Indonesia’s ruling Suharto family, whose youngest son needed a job to keep him out of mischief and inform daddy when the time would be right to move in and take possession of the venture.

“Gold” respects the facts as far as necessary and embellishes them with well-crafted fictions. Uncovering its real villain provides a useful coda. It’s good fun, well performed, handsomely mounted and a timely reminder, if any be needed, that the gold business can send men mad for the worst of reasons.

At all cinemas

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