Tue. May 24th, 2022

If only the film itself rose to Efron’s extreme level of his commitment. “Gold” is more effective from an aesthetic standpoint than it is from a narrative one. The storytelling is actually too streamlined—we know too little about these people to become engrossed in whether they persevere. Director, co-writer, and co-star Anthony Hayes does create a vividly harsh landscape, though, and he accomplishes a lot with his spare means. Working with cinematographer Ross Giardina, he places his few characters in a monochromatic sprawl that’s bleak and tactile. A hellish, third-act sandstorm devastates in minimalist fashion. Moody sunsets are especially striking, but they’re also a reminder that the end of each day brings zero hope for a better tomorrow.

At the film’s start, Efron’s stoic character—listed literally as Man One in the credits—arrives at a dilapidated gas station in the middle of nowhere to meet a stranger for a ride. He is Hayes’ comparatively chatty Man Two, who has agreed to drive Efron’s character to some outpost, a journey that takes them through jagged, craggy terrain that hauntingly resembles the moon’s surface. We don’t know why the world is like this, by the way. It just is. We also don’t know anything about who these people were in the before times. They just are. The most we learn about Man One is that he’s “from the West,” a mocking term that suggests he’s relatively sophisticated.

But any differences that exist between Man One and Man Two immediately fall away when their car breaks down and they find themselves stranded. While camping overnight, they just happen to discover a gigantic chunk of gold sticking out of the ground, something they both desperately want and must trust each other to dislodge. While Hayes’ character takes off to procure excavating equipment, Efron’s must stay and mind the treasure, enduring harsh elements, ravenous wild dogs, and incessant flies swarming around his beautiful but blistered face for what feels like forever. The process at play can be intriguing—how he passes the time, the spry edits when he comes across a plane’s wreckage and turns it into a makeshift shelter. This is also a rare reminder of the outside world and the possibility that humanity exists somewhere, but such context is quickly fleeting. Similarly, a run-in with another drifter (Susie Porter) briefly heightens the film’s tension. She also happens to have a personality—she’s a smart-ass, which is exciting. But then it’s back to waiting, and more waiting, with the occasional lens flare.

By admin