This film was screened at Fantastic Fest
Director, co-writer and star Mickey Reece is nothing if not ambitious with “Country Gold,” his offbeat, black and white dark comedy / sci-fi film that’s not quite funny or fun enough to become the cult classic it wants to be. Even though the end product isn’t a slam dunk, there’s a lot to admire about this original, thoughtful independent film.
Highly commercial country star Troyal Brux (Reece) gets a letter from the legendary George Jones (Ben Hall), asking the man to drop everything and come meet him in Nashville. Troyal has long idolized Mr. Jones, and it’s an invitation he simply can’t refuse. When he arrives, the two prepare for a night out on the town that includes well-done steak dinners, plenty of booze, gun shooting, and encounters with loose women. Little does Troyal know the real reason he was summoned is that George has a very important appointment the next morning, where he is set to by cryogenically frozen.
It’s a bizarre story about art, legacy, regret, self-doubt, and what it means to be a man in the world of country music and society as a whole. All of this is expressed in a screenplay (co-written by John Selvidge) that has a casual, “shooting the shit” type of conversational dialogue. While there are a fair share of misfires, parts of the script absolutely sing, especially the scenes about the demands of creating art on your own terms — if such a thing really existed.
Burdened with his own insecurities, Troyal tries too hard at almost everything he does. He wants so badly to be relevant, accepted, and liked that he embodies that exaggerated good ‘ol boy routine that seems to be expected of country music personalities in particular. It’s such an integral part of his personality that at first you assume he’s making up the personal invitation from Jones.
There is a lot to unpack here, and the absurdist, experimental film feel can be an acquired taste for some. The story is slow and monotonous in parts, which doesn’t make for the most entertaining movie. In fact, this story is so unusual in its conversational dissections of life that it’s perfect for the page and would make a killer novel.
“Country Gold” isn’t without its fair share of problems, but it still warrants a positive rating and review not only because it’s so interesting and different, but because it is a solid expression of the filmmaker’s unique voice.
By: Louisa Moore