A Reel Life film section

Issue: Winter 2016

Goldstone (2016) movie review

Gold Fever

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Australian fifty (50) dollar note; 583x248
movie poster, Goldstone, Festivale film review; 400x580

Movie poster, Goldstone

Indigenous Detective JAY SWAN (Aaron Pedersen) arrives in the frontier mining town of Goldstone on a missing persons enquiry.

What seems like a simple "light duties" investigation soon opens into a web of crime and corruption implicating the local Mayor, Mining Boss and Aboriginal Land Council.

Although not officially a sequel to Mystery Road, Goldstone features the same indigenous detective Jay Swan.

Swan is the ultimate outsider. He is not, he believes, part of the local "mob" of aboriginal inhabitants. He is a cop in an outback where his people are called "blackfellas", not like the white cops but doing a white job for the white establishment.

Goldstone is an isolated desert community. The aboriginal land council has rights, but the community still lives in unattractive conditions. Goldstone is a town of demountable buildings and caravans in various conditions.

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Michelle Lim Davidson in GOLDSTONE (c) 2016 Bunya Productions

Josh (Alex Russell) is the law in this one-cop-town, administering justice and protecting local interests. When he pulls over an inebriated aborigine, he puts the man in a cell. Going through the man's effects he finds a gun. And a State Police badge.

movie still, Aaron Pedersen in Goldstone, Festivale film review; 600x360

Scruffy, often pissed (drunk), Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) in Goldstone. (c) 2016 Bunya Productions

Swan is in Goldstone to follow up on the reported sighting of a missing Asian young woman. In conducting his investigation he encounters the local mayor (Jackie Weaver) who plies him with her apple pie and subtle threats. He discovers that "all roads lead to Furnace Creek", the nearby gold mining site. There Johnny (David Wenham) runs the open cut mine using bricks of gold bank notes to grease his way.

movie still, Aaron Pedersen and Jackie Weaver in GOLDSTONE, Festivale film review; 600x387

Aaron Pedersen and Jackie Weaver in GOLDSTONE (c) 2016 Bunya Productions

Swan and Josh have very different ways of maintaining the law, and as the story unfolds, they maintain an uneasy tension between their different aims.

The desolate Australian landscape, beautiful but harsh, is a star of this film. Shots from above create a cinematic statement of loneliness, an unforgiving environment, and a strange abstract beauty.

Like all good crime stories, the setting is an important character. The Australian Outback is harsh, dry, hot, unforgiving, and sometimes rich in beauty and mineral wealth. Swan is introduced to the beauty and cultural history of the land by Jimmy (David Gulpilil), and it is from him that Swan learns his father was one of the stolen generation.

movie still, David Gulpilil in GOLDSTONE, Festivale film review; 600x382

Veteran actor David Gulpilil plays Old Jimmy in GOLDSTONE. (c) 2016 Bunya Productions.

The universe is not for you. You are for the universe.

The brutality of greed, the implacable selfishness of trafficking in very young women, the rough behaviour of men who work the open cut mines all play a part in this tale of people trying to make their way in their small world.

Goldstone is a wonderful example of crime storytelling. The characters are interesting, well-drawn by writer/director Ivan Sen, and well-played. The story is about people, and motivated by issues that are confronting Australia, and the world, today.

movie still, Jackie Weaver and David Wenham in GOLDSTONE, Festivale film review; 600x400

Jackie Weaver and David Wenham in GOLDSTONE. (c) 2016 Bunya Productions

Aaron Pedersen and Alex Russell get to play Australia's notion of real action heroes, wearing guns and badges and riding the desert in their 4WD utes. Jackie Weaver as the mayor with high heels and a heart of steel plays against the men and isn't afraid to be menacing in a ladylike way. David Wenham is amazingly unlikable as the greasy mining foreman. David Gulpilil is the conscience of the film, while the madam (Pei-Pei Cheng), the sex-girl (Michelle Lim Davidson), and Pinky the travelling prostitute (Kate Beahan) all play key parts in the unfolding of the truth.

Altogether, this is an excellent crime story set in a challenging environment, and showing the cost of making a life and a fortune in the dusty Australian outback.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 07 2016
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.
See also:

Mystery Road

See the trailer

See more films to be released in 2016

Just the facts:

Title: Goldstone (2016)
Written by: Ivan Sen
Directed by: Ivan Sen
Running time: mins

The Players: Aaron Pederson, Alex Russell, Jackie Weaver, David Denham, David Gulpilil, Pei-Pei Cheng, Michelle Lim Davidson, Kate Beahan

Official website: hTwitter
IMDb entry

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