The most devastating view of Generation X yet, "Inside the Goldmine" is a searing first feature emphasizing passion over style. Its raw energy imbues every frame, with the prospect of hope not remotely a part of its vocabulary. That should earn it critical attention but will seriously limit its commercial prospects to fest and arthouse venues.

The most devastating view of Generation X yet, “Inside the Goldmine” is a searing first feature emphasizing passion over style. Its raw energy imbues every frame, with the prospect of hope not remotely a part of its vocabulary. That should earn it critical attention but will seriously limit its commercial prospects to fest and arthouse venues.

Unquestionably influenced by the early films of John Cassavetes, director/co-writer and star Josh Evans uses the murder of a young woman to anchor his characters and situations. Jordan (Alan Marshall) is the scion of a famous Hollywood producer, and buddy Clyde (Evans) is both his accomplice and tormentor.

The entertainment industry serves as a backdrop and metaphor for the young people’s empty lives. Aimless, unmotivated and from wealthy families, this breed has evolved into textbook nihilists. Given that context, one understands why the police suspect Clyde — who’s had earlier brushes with the law — of murdering the girl briefly seen at the beginning offering a rather vile analysis of their crowd.

Played with the nerve endings exposed, scenes unfold in long takes. The dialogue leaves nothing to the imagination. The psychodrama splits audiences into those quickly headed for the door and heartier viewers mesmerized by the honesty and invention of the vision.

Evans’ cast is largely composed of non-pros, which further intensifies the vivid nature of the production. As an actor he has an effortless charisma. The script is relentless in keeping its intentions masked and in refusing to let characters and viewers off the hook.

Most potent are the encounters between Jordan and his father (Gary Chazen). The latter is classically abusive toward a son he feels compelled to compete with, even as he’s incapable of responding to his son’s cries for help.

Tech credits demonstrate a precise and unswerving perspective. Particularly striking is Fernando Aguilles’ camerawork, which borders on the bright and surreal as counterpoint to the action.

The “Goldmine” of the title is elusive and beyond the reach of the principals. Unquestionably intended to wear viewers down, the film is an apt showcase for a unique, emerging hyphenate.

Inside the Goldmine

Production

A Cineville presentation in association with Hugh Pedy. Produced by Adam Stern. Executive producers, Pedy, Uri Zighelboim. Line producer/assistant director, Louis Nader. Directed by Josh Evans. Screenplay by Evans, Zighelboim.

Crew

Camera (Foto-Kem color), Fernando Aguilles; editor, Nabil Mechi; music, Robin Lemusier; production design, Karen Hasse; art direction, Creston Funk; sound (Cinestereo), Oliver Haycroft, Mike Michaels, Sam Mendelssohn; casting, Tony Markes. Reviewed at Seattle Intl. Film Festival (New Directors), June 9, 1994. Running time: 92 min.

With

Jordan Dalgren - Alan Marshall Clyde Daye - Josh Evans Emily - Alicia Tully Jensen Sid Dalgren - Gary Chazen Stockard - Charlie Spradling Waitress - Natasha Gregson Wagner Scarlet Rider - Ines Misan Daisy - Drew Barrymore Det. Abraham - Himself
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