‘Gold Dust’ (2020) reviewed

 This nutty, throw-it-all-in-a-blender movie has cult classic written all over it, writes Nick Clement.

Image: October Coast PR.

“This is a go-for-broke movie, somewhere between a western and post-apocalyptic, with laughs, thrills, friendship, danger, and excitement filling the edges, and with a constantly-moving sense of story momentum which never allows the audience to linger on any one thing for too long.”

Produced on an obviously low budget but crafted with an immense amount of creativity and imagination (to say nothing of homage or inspiration), Gold Dust is one of those scrappy, throw-it-all-in-a-blender endeavours that has immediate cult classic written all over its dirty face.

Written and directed by David Wall (who also stars), the narrative centers on two prospectors, living somewhere along the Mexico border, who set out on a quest to find a ghost ship, which apparently has been buried in the desert sand. Trouble is, the area is the stomping ground for some bad-ass drug lords who have a very unique way of transporting their stashes of heroin, and before long, the two heroes must decide between doing what they know is right, and living out their wildest dreams and fantasies. This is a go-for-broke movie, one of those items where it felt like the filmmakers jammed in everything they could in case they never got the chance to make another film; sometimes that doesn’t work, but here, it did.

Image: October Coast PR.

It’s somewhere between a western and a sort-of-but-not-really-post-apocalyptic landscape, with laughs, thrills, friendship, danger, and excitement filling the edges, and with a constantly-moving sense of story momentum which never allows the audience to linger on any one thing for too long. The performances are wink-wink and very much in on the joke, but still very professional and well-considered, with Wall and David Wysocki sharing terrific best-friend chemistry, and a great sense of dry, black comedy. Derek Severson makes for a nasty villain, and in general, there’s a gleeful level of craziness running rampant during this nutty production.

Cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy doesn’t rely on being overly flashy, but instead was wise to choose some excellent static compositions, and then gets to cut loose in a couple of key sequences. The use of an eclectic soundtrack which features a wild mix of tunes and rhythms (Cage the Elephant was a soundtrack contributor) also helps to keep everything a little off balance.

I’m not familiar with the work of the clearly talented multihyphenate Wall, who previously directed films such as Joe & Joe and Mrs. Worthington’s Party, but now I’m interested to do a little cinematic digging – you never know where you’ll find the buried treasure. He’s got a great sense of command over his absurd yet conviction-filled vision, and juggling tones isn’t the easiest thing to do, but he pulls it off effortlessly. Gold Dust has a little bit of everything – it reminds of genre-bending efforts like Mad Max, The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, and Turbo-Kid, and other fantasias of weirdness, and while nowhere near as budget-slick as those two efforts, there’s a scrappy charm that Gold Dust possesses that keeps the audience engaged all throughout. It’s fun – and sometimes – that’s all one needs in the moment. Gold Dust is currently available on DVD from High Octane, and is also streaming via various streaming providers.

‘Gold Dust’ on DVD and Digital 7 April 2020 from High Octane Pictures.

Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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