Gold ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
In the not too distant future, a drifter (Zac Efron) travelling through the desert discovers the largest gold nugget ever found. He must guard it from thieves amid harsh conditions and wild dogs while waiting for his partner to return. Available to watch on Prime.
Zac Efron has definitely been doing a good job of erasing his squeaky-clean image from his High School Musical years to try to convince us all he’s a serious actor after all.
Just like Daniel Radcliffe has done by shaking off his Harry Potter look, getting naked on stage, playing gay and even a farting corpse and just like Robert Pattinson was able to cleanse himself from the Vampire image in the Twilight movies (he’s devotion to arty directors is second to few), Efron is really trying his best to show us that he’s more than just a “pretty face”. In fact in Gold he’s presented as a scarred, bloody, sun-blistered and filthy drifter, which might make even his biggest fans go “yuk”.
The story might be set in an epic post-apocalyptic, stark Australian landscape, but it is really a two-men stage piece. Efron plays a drifter who’s given a ride by a truck driver played by Anthony Hayes, (who’s also working behind the scenes as the director and co-writer of the screenplay).
After travelling for a few days across the desert, they come across huge rock that turns out to be the world’s biggest hunk of undiscovered gold. The problem is that it’s so big that neither of them seems to be able to move it. So the truck driver sets off to find something big enough to excavate the gold, leaving Efron behind to guard it.
At which point the film becomes a sort of “Man vs Nature” type of affair, as Efron is left battling the scorching sun, dehydration, fierce wild dogs, snakes and scorpions.
The desert landscape itself as the setting for the film, as well as the fact that it’s mostly just Efron on his own, doesn’t give the film many opportunities for drama and while didn’t stop Robert Zemeckis, nor Danny Boyle from coming up with some gripping stuff (I’m talking about Cast Away and 127 hours), Hayes, while an accomplished actor, doesn’t seems to be able to lift the film much above the miserable experience that it is.
The nature of the apocalypse is never revealed, we learn nothing about Efron’s character and in the end beyond the metaphor about how lonely, selfish and dismayed we have now become, the film has actually very little else to say.
Not even Efron’s transformative and rather intense performance, can help make this a recommendable experience, unless of course you’re a fan of Zac, but even then, you might hate it because he doesn’t even look like him.
And if the takeaway from this film is that he’s a good actor… well, I knew that before and if you didn’t, you should pay more attention.
Overall, Gold is an interesting, but a rather pointless exercise, which should have probably been done as a short film.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Gold is available to watch on Prime.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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