JDIFF Review – Gold

Twelve years after he left town because his childhood sweetheart dumped him and took his child away, Ray (David Wilmot) returns to see his ailing father. Ray decides to catch up with his former partner Alice (Kerry Condon) and his daughter Abbie (Maisie Williams), only to discover that Alice is dating his former high school PE teacher Frank (James Nesbitt).

There is something rather familiar about the premise of Gold, which makes the film not only comforting, but a lot of fun. David Wilmot plays up the loser, slacker character of Ray, making him likeable and sweet, and also a man who is hurt that his family has moved on, because it seems that he was never able to. Kerry Condon carries on her streak of playing extremely likeable and conflicted characters with Alice, James Nesbitt ramps up the silly with his performance as Frank. Not only are Frank’s fitness videos verging on the ridiculous, but he is a man so intense and intent to make a difference, that he comes off as ridiculous as well. Maisie Williams rounds out the cast as Abbie, a young woman who is angry with the world, and takes most of her rage out on her family.

Writers Niall Heery and Brendan Heery have managed to find veins of tragedy and comedy in a familiar situation. They may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the genre of family break up comedy, but there is something warm and sweet about the story of a man who is trying to make good, albeit several years too late.

As director, Niall Heery gets the best from his actors, and it is with them that both the comedy and tragedy is born. It is just a shame that music is slightly misused in the film, which means the audience is dragged away from the emotion from time to time, and some odd story telling choices lead to some truly confusing moments. For the most part though, the comedy lands and the tragedy tugs at the heartstrings.

Gold is a comic take on a tragic story, which is made by strong performances from David Wilmot and Maisie Williams. The dynamic between the two makes the film warm and funny, and lends weight to the choices that Ray must face. James Nesbitt does a fantastic job as the over the top PE teacher and, while the film is not going to change the world, it is a treat to see an Irish film with a whole lot of heart.

Rating: 3.5/5

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