The average American man invests in the American dream - toil only fails him, yet luck yields him far greater rewards... until it too is unmasked as a grand sham. Gold is literally the story of striking the good stuff on the dream of such an average American man, and there's much to be mined in this sensational semi-true story, whose penchant for excessive dramatic liberty is as thematically appropriate as it is promising. So it is with dismay that Stephen Gaghan's film is too unmasked as a hollow sham, brimming with potential but offering only the most ephemeral pleasures, whose impact wears thin long before this trite quasi-biopic has reached its predictable conclusion. A vague, juvenile screenplay inspires little greater than a vanity vehicle for lead Matthew McConaughey, though his grandstanding is its opposite only in its brute force, and its equal in its insight. McConaughey's appeal burns out quickly, bringing the film down with it, since Gaghan doesn't seem to know what's good for either him or his film. Gold harbours its fair share of quiet pleasures, in fact, overwhelmed by an unfortunate tendency toward loudness - there are brief moments of curious contemplation sporadically interwoven into the film's otherwise garish fabric, and a number of thoughtful compositions stands out; credit where it's due, then, to DP Robert Elswit and to Edgar Ramirez, whose enigmatic performance is a striking tonic to McConaughey's. Yet, fatally, this isn't Ramirez's story. It's an average American story of an average American man, and an average film as a result.