Records were broken with the rain that partially drowned our island a few weeks back and now, in this new week, again there’s another deluge happening up north – if not so devastating as the one that hit in early June – thankfully. Here in the south the forecasters are telling us there will be snow almost to sea level in an Antarctic blast coming up from the Great Southern. With a trip to Mangoland beyond our budget this year, my lovely Leigh and I sought a substitute. There, in one of their toasty cinemas at the State, we discovered a place where it seemed it hadn’t rained for all eternity, or so it looked. And its heat could cook eggs on a bald head. It was only a speck on a map in the great expanse of the Outback, was Goldstone, but there was more action going on there than in the whole of Midsomer county.
And that great expanse of Namib-like desert nothingness was one of the main features of this exercise. It was magnificent. Obviously director Ivan Sen was able to extract a fair amount of mesmerising cinematography from his drones. Just simply fantastic. Gee, our country is big when you see it portrayed from that vantage point on the screen. ‘Goldstone’ is a sequel of sorts to Sen’s ‘Mystery Road’ – and it’s a mystery to me as to why I did not see it on release, given that the follow up so appealed. I’ll be hunting it out at the local video store sometime soon.
This latest one is a ripper yarn featuring David Wenham as a nasty-pasty and Jacki Weaver as the fly-bitten, sun-backed, tin-shedded hamlet’s mayor – although why such a miniscule place would need one, complete with mayoral robes, is anyone’s guess. She, however, was up to her neck in some very non-mayoral graft and corruption. For you see, just over the horizon, was a giant gold mine, managed by Wenham’s character Johnny. He’s a slimy piece of work, immersed in malfeasance along with our Jacki. The two were involving the local tribal elders (David Gupilil and Tom E Lewis) in their machinations; machinations that included trafficking Asian prostitutes to keep the fly-in miners from missing home too much. This group of profoundly unhappy young women included, as May, the gorgeous Michelle Lim Davidson of Utopia fame.
Aaron Pedersen was tremendous as the alcohol-addled, squinting and very, very sweaty detective, Jay Swan, assigned to track down one of the Asian girls who has somehow turned up in a missing person’s report. He forms an uneasy bond with the local copper (Alex Russell) who, hitherto, had been turning a blind eye to most of the wrongdoing around his patch. As they unravel the nasty behaviours going on with the vested interests, a fair amount of mayhem ensues, climaxing with a shootout to rival what went on at the O.K. Corral.
A couple of critics have scribed that the acting leaves something to be desired, but, apart from a few clunky moments, I thought it was all pretty spot on. Some have also stated it’s a little tardy in taking off. I don’t think this had any claims to ‘Mad Max’ style mayhem – I thought its languor in the early scenes was partly what sucked one into its goings on. We all know that life in the Red Centre moves at a slower place than it does for citified folk. Ivan Sen infuses it all with a burnished light, a bit of Dreamtime spiritualism mixed in with a tad of ‘Wake in Fright’ style Outback seediness. For a while Leigh and I forgot about the wintry chill outside. I was quite reluctant to leave ‘Goldstone’s’ world. Yes, it was bloated with odd bods and dregs escaping society but, when our hero meandered off into the sunset, I inwardly mourned as the credits came up, for then I had to face an icy gale blowing down Elizabeth Street.
That alone helped this movie being up there with ‘A Month of Sundays’ as the best of the local product, so far, for ’16.