Comprised of dongas, dirt roads, one policeman and a sweet-as-pie mayor, Goldstone is an unassuming backdrop for human trafficking and murder. When wayward detective, Jay Swan, blows into the remote mining town of Goldstone to investigate a missing persons case, he stumbles upon a melting pot of corruption.
Director and creator, Ivan Sen, reunites audiences with indigenous detective, Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson) in this sequel to Mystery Road (2009). The jaded detective stirs up the dust around town when he starts asking questions of it’s tight-lipped population. Goldstone folk don’t like people snooping around in their business, especially when it’s big business, like the multi million-dollar expansion of a mine.
As Swan investigates the missing persons case he clashes heads with the young town cop, Josh (Alex Russell). Josh undergoes a moral crisis throughout the film as his conscience forces him to investigate the motivations of the once trusted town mayor, and mining supervisor.
Jacquie Weaver plays the unsettlingly sweet town mayor, who appears to be having a vaguely portrayed love affair opposite David Wenham, the pink-skinned head of operations at the Furnace Creek Metals Group mine. It is revealed that together they’ve been bribing the chairman of the Land Council (Tom E. Lewis) and injecting alcohol into the would-be-dry Aboriginal community, in order to nullify any objection to a million-dollar mining expansion.
The combination of character, plot and setting lends to this film’s outback-western feel. Sen’s rogue detective materializes like a horseless cowboy in the breathtaking shots of red dirt landscapes. Filmed in Queensland’s remote town of Middleton, Sen uses long shots to draw emphasis to the enormity of the outback. He also employs the use of bird’s eye shots throughout the film to accentuate the desolate surroundings.
The plot is dense and complex but overall is executed quite skillfully. Sen integrates many themes throughout the film including (but not limited to): the struggle of displaced Aboriginal culture in modern Australia, human trafficking of Chinese women, the environmental toll of mining, as well as the corruption riddled throughout the mining industry.
Ivan Sen is a notorious jack of all trades in the Australian film industry. He tends to write, shoot, direct, edit and score his films single handedly. Seemingly still refining his craft, a critical outside voice may have been a help to the finished product of the film. The music in some places, for instance, seemed awkward which detracted from the drama on screen. The intense and emotionally driven score for Swan’s visit to Pinky’s mobile prostitution van had a particularly confusing effect.
Sen’s passion for Aboriginal rights and his love for the land is palpable throughout Goldstone. Although the story ties up quite neatly in the end, the film leaves a lingering desire to connect modern Australia with the land and indigenous culture.
Goldstone is an important commentary of current Australian predicaments and a breathtaking cinematic experience.
I give it a 4 outta 5.
By Scarlett Maloney