Words: Brody Rossiter
BEAST OF EDEN
So often, pictures which situate children and young adults at the forefront of their narratives present a sense of youthful wonderment. Poignant life lessons are often squeezed between layers of humorous reflection and melancholic discovery, but ultimately such insular tales are largely optimistic and enthusiastic when regarding what the future holds.
Perhaps this is why when such youthful follies broaden their horizons, marching beyond the safe borders of a familiar small town setting and filling the view in the distance with a vast swathe of black clouds, the storytelling can become so powerful and affecting.
Diego Quemada-Díez’s, The Golden Dream, originally titled The Gilded Cage upon its Cannes Film Festival release (a reference to the bittersweet life many immigrants lead in an America which will grant you a new but eternally subservient life inside its red, white, and blue embrace) is a poignant depiction of three Guatemalan teens attempting to travel through Mexico and illegally enter The United States. Facing great danger at every stage of their journey, the three – one of whom is a girl shrewdly disguised as a boy – encounter several life-changing ultimatums to further their progress.
The Golden Dream represents a decidedly hard-hitting form of coming-of-age drama concerned with reality’s trials – particularly those of individuals stuck between geographical stations. It lacks the soft lyrical, dream-like edges of a Terrence Malick, or David Gordon Green youth drama, electing to focus upon cruelty and both physical and emotional displacement – distilling such issues through the naive eyes of children.
From the naturalistic handheld camera to the largely diegetic sounds of wildlife and township peripheries, the film feels incredibly organic. The use of non-professional actors allows the three leads to retain a sense of honesty and innocence in the face of an insurmountable threat that constantly presides over their journey despite not always being visible. Brimming with spirit and youthful energy that constantly faces being extinguished, The Golden Dream is a potent and understated journey that despite its slow pacing travels great emotional distances.