The premise of Goldie (2019) was intriguing enough to get me to see it while at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film has some ambitious elements and tells a simple yet effective story. Unfortunately, writer and director Sam de Jong’s vision comes up a little short.
Goldie is an ambitious film but its elements never quite come together
Goldie (Slick Woods) is eighteen and is looking for her big break by dancing in a music video so she can help her family, which consists of her mother and two sisters (Alanna Renee Tyler-Tompkins and Jazmyn C Dorsey). Her plans become more important when her mother is arrested and child services are called to take the younger siblings. Goldie takes them with her so they aren’t separated, and tries to find a place to stay while piecing together the perfect outfit for her big opportunity.
Woods is in the lead here and is just trying to break out as an actress. There is definitely talent there, but it is a bit raw, which comes across a little wooden at times. Still, the movie centers around her, and she is able to build an empathetic enough performance for us to root for her. The stakes are established well enough, as her family is literally at stake. However, her dreams of making it big never truly feel viable or thought out. This, of course, is reflective of her naivety and immaturity – but she has a resilience that makes you like her.
De Jong uses a variety of visuals during the film, including a chalk outline motif. It is innovative, but becomes far less frequent as the movie goes on – and the reason it is used (outside of it “looking cool”) never becomes clear. Its main function becomes title cards, as various characters are introduced while Goldie moves from one person to another, looking for any kind of assistance they are willing to give. Each time it pops up with the name of the new character we are being introduced to, we hear a little girl’s voice state the name, which is presumably supposed to be one of Goldie’s little sisters…but the story isn’t from their perspective, thus it just becomes an aesthetic choice.
There is definitely much of potential in both Woods and de Jong, but Goldie left me wanting a bit more. Technical errors or odd choices – jump cuts or odd zooms – made the film seem more like an experiment in the art form rather than a clear vision. For me, it just didn’t land enough for me to recommend the film. Thus, Goldie earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.