Gold (Thriller) (2022)
Director: Anthony Hayes
Writer: Anthony Hayes, Polly Smyth
Stars: Zac Efron, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Andreas Sobik
Journeying through a dystopian Australian desert, a drifter and his escort stumble upon a huge chunk of gold. As his companion leaves to retrieve the equipment to retrieve this boon, the traveller is left to fend for himself with limited resources in a barren waste surrounded by ferocious wildlife.
Both acting and directing, Anthony Hayes conceives an Australian survival feature in a similar setting to ‘’The Rover’’ and the ‘’Mad Max’’ franchise. Filmed within the Southern Australian outback and locations such as Flinders Range and the town of Leigh Creek and internationally released in early 2022. It has been produced by Deeper Water Films, Rogue Star Pictures, Stan Entertainment Pty Ltd, Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation while being distributed by Madman Entertainment.
Seeking opportunity elsewhere in a dystopian Australian outback, Virgil (Zac Efron) arrives at an outpost where he meets Keith (Anthony Hayes), his escort, a place known as The Compound. During their drive through an inhospitable desert, they incidentally come across a colossal chunk of gold. Hatching a plan to uncover it, Keith proposes that his escortee travels to the nearest town to borrow an excavator. Uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the surrounding area, Virgil argues a hesitant Keith travels to get the excavator instead; since he’s more familiar, they agree, and Virgil is left behind, spending a few days in the scorching heat without shelter and ravenous wolves surrounding all sides.
As films such as ‘’The Rover’’ in a more realistic setting compared to the ‘’Mad Max’’ wasteland aren’t too common, Hayes’ latest project delivers a seldomly scratched itch—In an almost biblical presentation of human perseverance and greed.
Ultimately, ‘’Gold’’ might not be the most unique endeavour, yet Hayes attempts to provide much intrigue with relatively little. Bare minimums are given concerning surroundings and characters, but what is shown quickly establishes prophetic beauty contrasting a harsh world and a backstory lacking substance but overdelivering in the result.
The scroungy lives of Efron’s Virgil and Hayes’ Keith seem bound for change; their timid and distrustful dialogue provides plenty for an audience thirsty for such cinema. An arid landscape and its feral hounds providing as a tertiary or rather quaternary character. It’s not difficult to stay entranced with the artistically conjured landscape. Beauty crashes with self-seriousness and an ugly world where only the strong survive.
Despite my positive reception, ‘’Gold’’ isn’t as award-worthy as other motion pictures, yet it showcases directorial skill not immediately expected. Profoundness can be found in specific quantities with an engaging yet easily comprehendible narrative capped with an ending that felt favourable if sudden. Nothing is sugar-coated, and those fans of grimier stories will find more buried beneath the surface.
Emptiness, greed and a sense of a degraded society clinging on as a dog to a bone, ‘’Gold’’ is the hidden gem sparkling just out of sight. I’d advise travelling back a way not to miss this short and sweet flick, although you’ll feel the need for a shower or bath afterwards.
A nugget of gold.