January 13, 2017

Anna Wyckoff

Gold follows Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), a down on his luck prospector, as he joins forces with Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez), an equally motivated geologist, to hunt for the precious metal in the jungles of Indonesia. Costume Designer Danny Glicker describes the feature film as “a whimsical re-imagining of a real event.” The original story took place in the nineties, a decade which director Stephen Gahan was not interested in aesthetically. Because the circumstances could never occur in a world with camera phones and the internet, Gahan transposed the tale to the eighties.

The action is viewed through the prism of Wells’ perspective. As a result, the action portrayed, is skewed by his personal and specific vision. Glicker explains, “Bryce Dallas Howard plays Kenny’s girlfriend, Kay. She is more beautiful to him than the real Kay might have been. When he recalls the story, Kay is an unbelievably sweet person because it’s how he’s conjuring her in his retelling.”

The movie’s central primary locations are Indonesia, New York, and Reno. To find regional nuances, Glicker turned to local news outlets and magazines of the period. Shooting Thailand for Indonesia was complex. He says, “What was similar was the land, but the culture was completely different. It’s as if we had we shot it in L.A., it was that much of a leap. But when you see the movie, you’ll see why we were in Thailand. All the unbelievable vistas were real, not CGI.”

Glicker used a carefully a controlled color palette to subtly demarcate the different locations to the audience. He painted Reno in earth toned costumes. New York took a slightly cooler hue, punctuated by blown out bright whites and an occasional red power tie. “It should be subliminal,” enthuses Glicker. “In a story where there are so many locations, it really helps keep track of where we are. It’s almost like establishing a musical theme, then using it at the right times when I just want the audience always to know where they are, so they can focus on the story. But it was also emotionally relevant. New York is where business deals start getting a harder and a trickier. In Reno, the business deals are not much easier, but there is sort of familiarity.” In Indonesia, Glicker used rich batiks and beautiful traditional dyes in yellows and browns. The jungle scenes involved hundreds of people, torrential downpours, and the inevitable mud, which accompanies mining. Glicker chuckles when he considers continuity with mud. “Mining is dirty. People are drilling into the earth and pulling out samples of earth. So there was definitely an aesthetic that was driven by the elements.”

Additionally, a wide socioeconomic range is represented in each locale. “We show a spectrum of looks within each world,” explains Glicker. “For example, in Reno we see everything from low-rent bars and people making their last bets, to individuals in the upper echelons of the business world. Glicker compiled reams of research into huge mood notebooks, which were meticulously categorized. He then had them scanned to be accessible on iPads in the middle of the jungle. “In a weird way it was like a marriage of the very old fashioned—these huge binders of images— with the modern,” he says. Despite the fact that many in his crew did not speak English, Glicker found the images were able to visually bridge many language barriers.

When Wells is introduced to the audience he is desperate man. “When we first see him, I wanted the audience to know just by looking at him, if this deal does not work there’s nothing else. However, he is not a materialistic character. He actually has no interest in money. Gold is of value, in and of itself.” Glicker makes visual nods to Well’s country club upbringing through polyester golf shirts, while dodging clichés of a prospector in fancy clothes. Wells wants to be respected for what he has done, not how he appears. In contrast, Acosta is a worldly: elegant, impeccable, and unflappable. These qualities are demonstrated in all of his costumes.

“I think what’s so much fun is as a Costume Designer is I’m given the gift of getting to create the visual identify for these three completely distinct people, Kenny, Michael, and Bryce, who are not necessarily cut from the came cloth, but in many ways are made for each other. Every conversation with them is about the soul of their characters. The clothes are ultimately a reflection of the deeper issues that we discover together.”

Gold, from The Weinstein Company, is in theatres January 27th, 2017.

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