Review: Goldstone

Though Ivan Sen’s follow–up to Mystery Road (2013) doesn’t quite have the, ahem, mystery of its predecessor, Goldstone is nevertheless one of the key Aussie films of the year with a tough cast, fine playing and a vivid sense of time and dusty, dangerous place.

Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone (somewhere in outback Queensland) to investigate a missing person case. He’s now boozy and messy after the events of the first film (Mystery Road), so it’s no wonder that young cop Josh (Alex Russell) sees him as trouble from the outset. Jay refuses to be sent home, however, and is soon opening up a can of worms with uncomfortable ease. While he’s at first oblivious to the extent of the local rottenness, Sen’s script shows us all we need to know very early on. There’s the mine where boss Johnny (David Wenham) regularly offers bribes for silence; the ruthless mayor (Jacki Weaver), whose cheery smile and baking skills mask ugliness; and the effect this is having upon the indigenous community, where old–timer Jimmy (David Gulpilil) and others live in fear. Apparently intended as more satirical than Mystery Road, this not only follows Swan’s relentless quest for answers (and perhaps redemption after the previous pic) but also depicts Josh’s slow realisation of what he’s choosing not to see on his watch – as, just possibly, we are too. And while Sen’s ensemble is strong, this is held together by Pedersen’s performance, which is less funny than his current best–known role (in TV’s Jack Irish) and quietly powerful enough to have you looking forward to a whole series of potential adventures for Jay Swan, as he goes up against one corrupt small town after another. Rated M. Goldstone is in cinemas now.

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