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gold

★★★

director: anthony hayes (new skin, ten empty)
starring: zac efron, anthony hayes, and susie porter

 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

When two men discover the biggest gold nugget ever found they must find a way to excavate it.

Gold is a survival thriller directed by, co-written, and co-starring Anthony Hayes alongside Zac Efron as two men who, while traveling through a barren, desert wasteland discover a giant gold nugget. Their choice then becomes who will venture out for excavating equipment and supplies and who will brave the desert, to secure their newfound fortune against those who may seek to take it.

 

With much of the film centered on the ordeal suffered by Zac Efron’s character alone in the desert, it would be easy to think this is something of a Castaway-type of film. However it hews closer to the dusty, desolate world of The Rover and the harshness of The Road than to that classic Hanks/Zemeckis film. Which is to say, you’ll have to look pretty hard to find an inkling of a heartfelt moment experienced by Zac out there in the desert by himself.

 

What we do see is a strong performance by Efron, as a man enduring nature’s savagery for the chance at a better life. This man seems a gentle soul, suggested by his way with animals and his quiet nature around other people. However, having something to live and strive for will attract the wrath of the desert, and Efron is certainly put through the wringer in the film’s exploration of this.

 

The bleak Australian filming locations really sell the harshness and difficulty of survival in the desolate world of the film’s setting, though curiously the film never really indicates where (or when) in the world it is set. The few instances of signage in the film at times display a range of languages: Chinese, English, and Korean text. A satellite phone blares an automated Chinese broadcast message. This all serves to create a subtle mysterious aspect of the world in the film.

 

Gold is an unrelenting story, boasting a strong performance from Zac Efron as the man facing up against all odds for his survival. A compelling entry into director Anthony Hayes’s filmography, we can surely look forward to his next project.

Gold is an unrelenting story, boasting a strong performance from Zac Efron as the man facing up against all odds for his survival.

★★★