Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Entertainment.ie (G. Burke) review
Irish Times (D. Clarke) review
RTE (L. Delaney) review
The Guardian (L. Felperin) review
Gold  (directed and cowritten by Niall Heery along with Brendan Heery) is a lovely / gentle yet inherently complex / emotional family drama from IRELAND that played recently at the 2015 - 18th Chicago European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.
One random, ever drizzly / "liquid sunshiny" North Dublin day, twelve years after Ray (played magnificently throughout with gentle and generally well-meaning helplessness by David Wilmot) simply "wandered off" (and ABANDONED...) his wife Alice (played again magnificently by Kerry Condon) and their then 3 year old, now 15-16 year old (teenage...) daughter Abbey (played again "pitch perfect" by Maisie Williams), he "comes back."
Why did he leave? Everyone involved agrees ... because of depression. Indeed, when he "walked away" from his family, he did apparently try to kill himself soon afterwards. Why? Well, why do some people fall into depression or some even come to try to kill themselves? Generally for a rather complex mix of reasons, among them perhaps environment, a generalized / generalizing sense of hopelessness, and (perhaps) at least in part heredity.
Why did he come back? Viewers of this movie will spend a good part of the film trying to figure this out as well. But after twelve years, he "comes back."
Now it's not as if Ray's ANY "more together" than the day he left. He doesn't seem to have a job nor a plan. Indeed, when he first shows-up "back in town," he drives past a reasonably good looking discarded sofa sitting at the curb (in the rain ...). Stopping, taking a look and determining that it's in reasonably good shape, he puts / ties it up on his roof, figuring that "he may need it" some day in the near future ;-).
With that palish orange sofa tied to the roof of his car, he decides to drive then to his (former) wife's house. Just missing who he's guessing is his daughter and a man about his age, perhaps a little older, who turns out to be his (former) wife's subsequent husband Frank (played again magnificently by James Nesbit as the über-responsible second husband of a wife whose first husband just got-up one day and _irresponsibly_ walked away from her and their kid) getting into their car and heading off somewhere, Ray, with that paling orange sofa tied to the roof of his car, decides to follow them ...
... Well after some time of this, teenage Abbey does notice the strange car behind them and tells Frank, "DAD, we seem to be followed by some guy driving a car with an orange sofa tied to the roof." "Oh, are you sure?" "I'm pretty sure dad, he's been following close behind us for the last 10-15 minutes."
So Franks stops. So does Ray (still with the ever paler orange sofa tied to the roof of his car). Frank gets out of the car and walks over to Ray's car: "Is there a problem?" "No." "Then why are you following us?" Ray then pulls out a letter from he's had from Alice (remember that all agreed that he left home and even tried to kill himself because he was depressed) saying that he's "welcome home any time." Frank, beginning to recognize who Ray was, responds sternly: "But Ray that was TWELVE YEARS AGO." "I know," answers Ray, shaking his head knowing that he's been an F-up all these years, and knowing that he's almost certainly being an F-up now as well.
And so ... after TWELVE YEARS Abbey gets to meet her dad ... and a short time later his (former) wife Alice ...
This is IMHO the genius of this movie. It is SO KIND (and I would honestly say SO IRISH) ... to everyone.
Yes, everybody is irritated / confused / etc with Ray's re-emergence into their lives, BUT NO ONE has the heart to throw him out. How does one throw away a "puppy dog" who one day walked away, got lost, and then came back, even if TWELVE YEARS LATER ... and STILL seems to be ... "a puppy dog" ? ;-)
But then there's more to the story and it concerns Frank: Remember that he's the SUPER-RESPONSIBLE _second husband_ of Alice (who was abandoned by her kindly if SUPER-IRRESPONSIBLE FIRST ONE). As the SUPER-RESPONSIBLE SECOND HUSBAND, Frank has a SUPER-RESPONSIBLE-LIKE JOB. He's a gym teacher. AND HE'S MORE THAN THAT ... Determined to be a winner (after his wife and step-daughter were previously so hurt by having been "in the care of" a LOSER) he thinks that he's come-up with a "revolutionary new way of ... RUNNING."
Yes, he's convinced himself he's come up with a "NEW SYSTEM" -- of RUNNING -- THAT _NO ONE_ IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF HUMANITY, NOR ANY OF THE OTHER EIGHT BILLION BI-PEDED HUMANS WITH WHOM WE CURRENTLY SHARE THIS BIG, BEAUTIFUL GREEN PLANET OF OURS, HAS EVER COME UP WITH (it involves some kind of a strange if TINY difference in how we step). And he's even made a REALLY CHEESY IF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SINCERE "INFOMERCIAL LIKE" DVD to SELL THAT NEW "SYSTEM."
More to the point he has a 15-16 year old step-daughter who was already abandoned by her first father, and who has been trying REALLY, REALLY HARD TO PLEASE her second one ... to try out the "new system."
OF COURSE THE SYSTEM DOESN'T WORK, but ... 15-16 year old Abbey tries REALLY, REALLY HARD (even WAY TOO HARD ...) TO HIDE THIS FROM HIM, because ... she doesn't want to break her step-father's heart.
So this can't go on, and can't go well. And it doesn't ...
BUT ... Ray "The Loser" is now here ... to, YES, SAVE THE DAY.
Now how does "a loser" save the day?? Go see the movie ... and it'll probably make you cry.
... because sometimes, A LOT OF TIMES ... EVEN MOST OF THE TIME ... "winning" isn't EVERYTHING.
IMHO this is just an awesome and KIND, KIND, KIND / GENTLE film! Great, great job!
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