Review: Gold

This gritty Irish drama earns my green light


Gold would have been a good title for the George Hencken Spandau Ballet documentary that opened last week, but it suits Niall Heery's family reunion tale just as well because the film glistens.

You'll warm in minutes to central character Ray (David Wilmot) as he is down on his luck and broke after a failed suicide attempt that put him in a psychiatric hospital.

The decision to return to his home town in southern Dublin to see his dying father is a brave one as his ex-wife (Kerry Condon) and daughter Abbie (Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams) now live with Frank (James Nesbitt) who used to be Ray's PE teacher.

Frank - now a "high performance" coach - is the sort of man who does up the top button on his pyjamas and listens to piped muzak in the car.

He is also pushing Abbie to be a champion cross-country runner by implementing a punishing regime which Ray thinks is pointless. So pointless that it causes a row by a riverbank and Frank tumbles into the frozen water.

Cue temporary absence in hospital which gives Ray a chance to reacquaint himself with the woman he still loves and the daughter he wants to get to know.

Naturally the process of building the relationship means doing things he can to assist her and this includes purchasing contraband substances to help the struggling Abbie meet Frank's exhausting standards.

There is nothing particularly original about the story which is essentially a battle between two very different men - combative Frank and homeless Ray, who drives an old jalopy with a sofa strapped to the roof - but the situation feels very real and the acting is excellent. For some reason Ireland seems to be able to produce the kind of realism in cinema that British independents with the same budget cannot manage. It is also good to see Williams in a role other than Game of Thrones' Arya Stark and so proving she doesn't need to wield a sword to be strong.

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