Review: Gold

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GOLD (2022)

Castaway meets Mad Max in Gold, a slow burn of a film that is carried by a spectacular Zac Efron doing the most with not a lot.

In what we’re led to believe is a somewhat dystopian near future, two drifters (Zac Efron and Anthony Hayes) discover gold in the desert. One man leaves to get an excavator (Hayes) while another stays behind, braving the heat, lack of resources, and surrounding dangers. Hayes is pulling quadruple duty here, writing, directing, producing, and acting, altogether building an intense film that showcases a gritty, committed Efron. Though he spends most of the film in silence, his physical acting and presence, with a hat tip to some excellent makeup, brings viewers into his predicament. The conditions continuously worsen, as expected, until a truly surprising ending that made my jaw drop. 

The story and plot could use some work, unfortunately. The first half hour drags a bit as you’re trying to figure out from limited exposition exactly what setting we’re dealing with. No knock towards Hayes, but as soon as we are left with Efron alone, the true run begins. Left alone with the beautiful backdrop of the Australian Outback, Gold cements it’s footing. Though the film takes a bit too long to raise the stakes, there are some excellent payoffs that lead viewers to question what Efron, and in turn what they, are seeing. It’s not the most inventive basis for a film, but boy does it work.

In the final moments, you realize just how smart of a film Gold is and hear the message loud and clear: greed corrupts in this dog-eat-dog world. 

Gold hits limited theaters Friday.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from South Australian Film Commission

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