While the cost of gold is high, watching Gold is worth it.
In the not-to-distant future, a man (Zac Efron) in search of a fresh start. Not much is known about his mysterious character (simply known here as ‘Man One’), other than that he is trying to get away from the life he knew. As he ventures into the desert, he enters into a vast wasteland looking for anonymity and new beginnings. However, when he stumbles across a massive golden nugget, he and his driver are left with a decision: let it go and survive the desert or leave a man behind and fight for their claim.
Directed by Anthony Hayes (who, incidentally, also plays ‘Man Two’), the film is an intense experience exposes the corruption of man and wrestles with what’s important. Without question, Hayes wants the viewer to feel the heat as much as his lead. Bleaching the screen from all colour, Gold absolutely burns off the screen. Although Efron lives in the vast open space, there is a claustrophobic atmosphere to the film which makes everything feel tight. With every step, we feel like it could be his last.
As such, Gold becomes Efron‘s entry into the survivalist genre in the vein of Castaway and 127 Hours. It’s also some of his best work. For a man best known for his roles in R-rated comedies and musicals, Gold forces him to get by on the strength of his performance. Stripped of his traditional boyish charm and good looks, Efron portrays his character with grit and fierce determination. There is a focus and intensity within his performance that shows how far he has come as an actor.
At its heart, Gold becomes a film about discovering what matters most. The discovery of the enormous nugget feels like a life-changing moment for the two men. After all, if they can somehow remove it from its sandy grave, a world of immeasurable wealth awaits. But, so too does it become an incredible burden as well. Facing the wild beasts of the desert, wandering interlopers and the beasts of the desert, Efron battles the elements that beat down on him, ranging from a sandstorm to the wild beasts of the desert.
In a strange way, Gold almost has the feel of a one-act play featuring two (or three) primary actors. With each passing moment, Efron’s ‘Man One’ becomes more introspective as he’s forced to grapple with the deepest of questions. Although he sees the immense value of his prize, but at what cost? Is a future of wealth worth fighting for? What about murdering outsiders to protect it?
Is it worth losing his own life?
Furthermore, as Efron faces challenge after challenge, so too does the golden treasure seem to get smaller and smaller. As dust begins to cover the massive treasure, it feels like it’s about to slip through his fingers yet he remains relentless. Clutching the gold in his blistered, dry hands, Efron refuses to let anyone or anything separate him from what’s rightfully his, even death itself. As he slowly wastes away, the initial enthusiasm for his discovery seems less important. Nevertheless, he remains determined.
With fire and fury, Gold is something to behold. Anchored by a strong performance by Efron, this unexpected gem is a powerful metaphor for man’s desire to hold on to wealth and possessions. In other words, Gold proves that all that glitters is not necessarily all it matters.
Gold is available on VOD, Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022.