Ivan Sen’s directorial talent is certainly noticeable in Goldstone. Sen revels in the Western genre, milking the dusty Australian landscape for all he can, and cinematography buffs will get a kick out of a running thread of overhead shots. Sadly, while Goldstone boasts a great cast under a steady hand, the material they’re working with just doesn’t make the grade. A messy script with boilerplate plotting causes a promising thriller to lag in the middle, leaving you baking in the hot sun alongside our brooding heroes.
“Small-town” doesn’t do Goldstone justice – this sunbaked stretch of land is as barren as it is bizarre, populated by half a dozen Aussies each as strange and harsh as the outback itself. While David Wenham’s almost aggressively Australian sensibilities are a lot of fun, Jacki Weaver is undoubtedly the star here. As Goldstone’s cunning mayor, she chews on all the scenery she can find with the ferocity – and cold dead eyes – of a crocodile.
In the dual lead roles, Aaron Pederson and Alex Russell acquit themselves well, even as they’re strapped with some hackneyed dialogue. The score goes overboard to sell the emotion, only serving to shine a light on how dreary some of Josh and Jay’s moping is. This tangled tale of human trafficking and local corruption is intriguing but unfortunately a little paint-by numbers; you’ll have guessed where Goldstone is going pretty damn quickly. The film then takes its sweet time catching up – you’d be forgiven for yawning as a snoozy second act drags on.
A cracking finale picks up the momentum, but Goldstone ultimately adds up to less than the sum of its parts. As great as Jacki Weaver is, her scene-stealing turn isn’t enough to warrant diving into this plodding Western.
CAST: Aaron Pederson, Alex Russell, David Wenham, Jacki Weaver
DIRECTOR: Ivan Sen
WRITER: Ivan Sen
SYNOPSIS: Indigenous detective Jay Swan arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing persons inquiry. What seems like a simple light-duties investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. Jay must pull his life together and bury his differences with young local cop Josh, so that together they can bring justice to Goldstone.