Gold — or, Mr. Wells Goes to Wall Street. Stephen Gaghan’s gussied-up treatment of a true story about a struggling salesman (Matthew McConaughey, fat, bald, and snaggletoothed) and a rogue prospector (Edgar Ramirez at his most mysterious) and their mad quest to find gold in the jungle is, like its star, scrappy and sloppy and out of its depth, but still appealing in its earnest reach for glory. McConaughey is Kenny Wells, a luckless striver who longs to carry on the family tradition of prospecting. Ramirez is Michael Acosta, a once-hot miner with a crackpot theory about mineral deposits. It’s rough going, what with the malaria and the always-dwindling financial reserves, but it isn’t until their findings catch the attention of the Powers That Be that things really get dicey. (At one point, Wells is required to enter a tiger’s cage and attempt to pat its head; that pretty much sums up his dealings with the financial system.) The story is sharp but exhausting; the emotion is genuine but overblown; the cast is capable but occasionally misused; and the ending aims at ambiguous but winds up just murky. It’s hard to call this ode to the common businessman a success, but it’s just a little bit harder to call it a failure. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
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