Big Gold Brick may not be made of gold but it’s still worth something.
Big Gold Brick tells the story of Samuel Liston (Emory Cohen), a man who has been pushed to the edge by the challenges of life. Struggling to make it through the day, Samuel’s life changes overnight when he is hit by a car driven by the wealthy Floyd Deveraux (Andy Garcia). Feeling guilty over the incident, Floyd invites Samuel to live with his family while he heals. Floyd lives with his wife Jacqueline (Megan Fox), his beloved daughter Lily (Lucy Hale) and their depressed son, Roy (Shiloh Fernandez) and Samuel immediately feels strangely at home in the midst of their dysfunction. What’s more, Floyd commissions Samuel to write his biography and begins to share all of his secrets with him. However, Samuel’s healing will become more difficult as the Deveraux home begins to unravel and his own psychological state becomes more unstable.
Written and directed by Brian Petsos, Big Gold Brick is a wild, Freudian fever-dream about a young man trying to piece his life together. Fueled by his own psychological trauma, the film holds its cards incredibly close to its vest to the point that the viewer is never truly sure what is going on. Is this an actual journey that he is taking or is it merely a psychological mind trip? Willing to sit in the ambiguity, Brick gives you few answers as the lines between truth and fiction are increasingly blurred.
As he writes Floyd’s biography, Samuel confronts as much of his own inner trauma as he does that of what is going on around him. Stuck in the midst of his own personal crisis, his encounters with each member of his new ‘family’ cause Samuel to engage pieces of his own life that he has been missing. For example, with his constant care and support, Floyd becomes a representation of the father figure that he lacks. At the same time, Jacqueline expresses his own mixed feelings towards his mother (not to mention his potential Oedipus complex). What’s more, Lily seems to show the type of relationship that he misses having been broken up with over a year ago and angry teen Roy represents Samuel as a young man struggling to find his way in the midst of his own rage.
In many ways, Gold is a film about finding out what we are capable of, especially when we feel we have nothing to offer. When we first meet Samuel, he is a broken man, stripped of prospects, relationships and hope. Even so, with each new trial that he faces, Samuel seems to learn more about his own potential and who he can be. Whether it’s a willingness to take on the challenge of writing, a strength of character to resist temptation or even seemingly potential superhuman abilities, this wild journey into the mind seems to be a way of processing his life as opposed to focusing on the emptiness of his situation. Even in the darkest of moments, this young man still has value and something to offer.
He may be frustrated, broken and angry yet there remains hope for him (even if he doesn’t believe that there is.)
As a result, there are many positives to Brick. There’s a certain charm to the film that often makes it likable and quirky. However, an erratic script that revels in unanswered questions often abandons its actors with either little to do or material that simply doesn’t work. While Cohen does an admirable job holding the film together, quality performers like Fox, Hale and Isaacs are frequently given material that simply doesn’t make use of their gifts. The notable exception here may be Garcia who, although given some odd material, manages to build a warm chemistry with Cohen that serves as its emotional core. Ultimately though, any issues with the film lie within its writing and not the talented performers involved.
Wild, whimsical and wacky, Big Gold Brick is almost hard to describe. There’s a silliness that will draw you in but also a strangeness that can alienate. Even so, despite its flaws, it’s commitment to its hero (and the bizarre) manage to weave something together by the end that can charm the viewer. But note, there may be moments where the viewer questions their own commitment to watching.
Big Gold Brick streams on VOD on Friday, February 25th, 2022.