Film Review – Goldstone (2016)

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Title – Goldstone (2016)

Director – Ivan Sen (Mystery Road)

Cast – Aaron Pedersen, Alex Russell, David Wenham, Jacki Weaver, Michelle Lim Davidson, David Gulpilil, Kate Beahan

Plot – Drawn to the outback town of Goldstone in search of a missing Chinese national, Detective Jay Swan (Pedersen) comes to realise that the sleepy mining town is hiding its fair share of dark secrets which many of locals would do anything to keep hidden.

“A stranger blew into town last night”

Review by Eddie on 14/03/2017

Since his debut Australian film Beneath Clouds in 2002, Aussie director Ivan Sen (who also often writes, edits, scores and acts as DOP on his films) has developed an impressive resume of local films, often tinged with Aboriginal themes and undertones, that has seen the talented filmmaker reach a peak with Toomelah in 2011, but his greatest success audience wise, 2013’s Mystery Road has now allowed him to develop one of the most surprising follow-ups in recent memories with the return of Aaron Pedersen’s detective Jay Swan in Goldstone.

Mystery Road was a proficient if slightly underwhelming police thriller but Aboriginal detective Swan offered a unique and intriguing central figure for audiences to lay hold on and the film also showcased Sen’s ability to work on a bigger canvass than he previously had participated on.

Building on the groundwork of that film, Goldstone feels like both a bigger event and a higher reaching one and while this time around Swan feels like more of a shell of his previous self, here he is unkempt and a clear alcoholic, Sen is entering new ground with this thriller which finds itself tinged in Australian themes, language and folklore but also not that far removed from fever dream mystery’s not dissimilar to late 90 European nature and the town of Goldstone offer’s Sen a playground of ideas that touches on all things from our lands natural resources, its past histories, people smuggling the very nature of small town life in the harsh surrounds of the Australian outback.

Sen has always been a visually talented director and Goldstone shines in this department, the neon signs of Goldstone’s seedy establishments offer much intrigue and seedy vibes while the films sparsely used yet moody score fits in well with the Wending-Refn feels.

Goldstone also boasts a fantastic support cast for Pedersen’s rather disappointing return as Swan, with Alex Russell’s local police offer Josh, David Wenham’s shorts wearing mining boss Johnny, David Gulpilil’s tragic Aboriginal elder Jimmy and Jacki Weaver’s local mayor Maureen all providing the film with a collection of floored human beings that showcases Sen’s ability as a writer, much like he did with Toomelah.

Filled with striking visuals, Goldstone is much more than the simple story of Jay Swan’s hunt for a missing Chinese national and while it’s disappointing for the film that Pedersen and Jay Swan as a character are the films biggest weaknesses, this surprising sequel with a significantly touching end coda is one of 2016’s very best local film products and another step for Sen that seems to suggest there’s a genuine Australian classic lying in wait for his taking.

3 ½ cakes out of 5

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