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Indigenous Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen, Mystery Road) arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing persons inquiry. What seems like a simple investigation opens a web of crime, corruption, trampling of indigenous people's land rights, and human trafficking. Jay must pull his life together and bury his differences with young local cop Josh (Alex Russell, SWAT), so together they can bring justice to Goldstone. Also starring 2-time Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) as the corrupt mayor, David Wenham (Lord of the Rings) as the evil mine manager, Cheng Pei-Pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the unscrupulous madam, and David Gulpilil (Crocodile Dundee) as the indigenous man who can't be bought.
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For some, the quiet, slow burn of Ivan Sen's films is hard to take, but not for me. Having been a bit of an Australian film aficionado, since first viewing Peter Weir's amazing "The Last Wave" many years ago, I come at this film from a few angles. As a film it is highly satisfying, combining as it does a great story, with quality acting, solid camera work and a really nice score written by Sen himself.
The second angle is that the main character of both films is frontier detective Jay Swan, a "first person" (or Aboriginal, or whatever the correct term is) who is both way smarter than most of the white people who want to kill him, and a wonderful embodiment of both the anger and resentment that the original occupants of Australia no doubt have toward their European conquerors, and the forward-looking hope that might exist in a bleak world where whites still hold all the cards. Sen pulls no punches with the "race card" here, but also doesn't dwell on it interminably. It just is, and informs the zeitgeist of his films.
The final angle is, well, stripped down, "Goldstone" is just a great 'Outback noir' or 'modern western' or whatever you want to call it. Sen updates whatever form you find most referenced by setting it in a withering, barely habitable wasteland that nonetheless is beautiful, and has something the main characters can't avoid wanting. For Swan, it is justice for his people. For the whites it is, natch, to exploit the natural riches that the aboriginals really own. Sound familiar. This is a clear case where visually, in terms of dialogue, and even plot, less is definitely more.
Great stuff. I look forward to more entries in the Jay Swann saga.
Jay is no saint — he’s drunk the moment he pulls into town and is arrested by a young local cop named Josh. They eventually become friends and begin to work the case together. The deeper they go, the more seedy things get.
There’s a mine trying to expand their operations. There’s local leader Maureen, who is trying to bribe the area’s indigenous people into using the raw materials on their land. And there’s a van filled with Asian women who are being forced to sell themselves to pay for their debts.
“I want to clean away the dust. I want to make it shiny again,” says one man. But even though they’re the heroes of this tale, Jay and Josh are nearly destroyed by it. You can see in the pain in each view of Jay’s face as he comes back through the desert.
Selected as the greatest Australian film of 2016 by The Guardian, Goldstone has been described as “film noir meets the Great American Wrestern in the Outback.” It’s finally available in the U.S. as of September 11 from MVD Entertainment.
I really enjoyed Jacki Weaver (a 2-time Oscar nominee for Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook) as the mayor. She presents herself as someone that cares for the people in her area, but only certain people. It’s sobering to realize that even across the world, the people who originally lived in an area and the immigrants who are new to it are as ostracized as they are here in America.
This is another semi-gritty crime drama with some action scenes. While this story follows and references "Mystery Road" it is not required that one see that film in order to watch this one. If you didn't like "Mystery Road" don't bother with this one.
Guide: F-word. No sex or nudity.