15 – 84mins – 2014
BACK ON TRACK
Not the recent Matthew McConaughey Oscar-bait about prospecting for the precious metal in Indonesia, this is a smaller, earlier, quainter Irish production about the perils of living up to elevated expectations, and the chaos of family life.
“Do you want a hug or something?”
With a sofa strapped to the roof of his clapped out old motor, suicidal depressive Ray (David Ripper Street Wilmot) turns up on the doorstep of his ex, Alice (Kerry Better Call Saul Condon), and teenage daughter, Abbie (Maisie Game of Thrones Williams), wanting to reconnect after ten years of estrangement.
But in that absent decade Abbie has all but forgotten her biological father, while Alice has established a new family unit by marrying former-PE teacher turned professional coach Frank (James The Hobbit Nesbitt), who is training runner Abbie in his vigorous, high-performance training programme as she heads for the regional heats.
“What if I told you there was a revolutionary new way to use your foot?”
Lazily categorised as an “offbeat comedy” owing to some frankly ludicrous non-sequiturs spewed forth from the befuddled lips of these struggling characters, there is actually more misery and tragedy in director/co-scribe Niall Heery’s Gold than guffaws. Ray is a sorrowful loser whose offspring treat him with unabashed contempt (“Don’t touch me!”), while the chaos his gatecrashing inadvertently brings into the household leads to an affair, a coma and disqualification. That’s three for three!
The recognisable cast are all roundly commendable, grounding these quirky oddballs even if there dialogue often paints them in a less likeable light (“fucking retard”… lovely!). This is a boldly crafted and dramatic analysis of strained relationships and the questionable extremes ordinary folk stoop to in the name of ambition, but even in its cheeriest moments, Gold is far from uplifting.
CR@B’s Claw Score: