The All Golden (Fantastic Fest 2023)
Nate Wilson (2023)
A young woman discovers her boyfriend has been hiding something in his closet.
Experimental and student-film like with an avant-garde psychedelic delivery, Nate Wilson's new film The All Golden plays like a soap opera conveyed through the psychotic newspaper clippings of a kidnapper. As various mediums unfold on-screen, from text overlays to bizarre camera cuts and askew angles, the film feels like a fever dream as told through a cinematography textbook. While it's fully out-there and clearly is an artistic feat, it pushes boundaries while never truly achieving its goal to become anything more than the sum of its parts.
I generally try to give a brief synopsis of the plot in one of the first two paragraphs of my review, but The All Golden kinda defies that logic. It's nonlinear and just strange, a film in which the credits roll multiple times, characters suddenly talk in strange accents, there are flaming swastikas and firearm fellatios... It's just weird as all hell. There is a brief, barely sensical plot, in which a woman who was in an accident is stuck in an apartment with her radicalized boyfriend. But it's the art form that is the real story here, a mishmash of experimental filmmaking and eccentric sound design that vacillates wildly between sensual and scary, silent and explosive.
It's a challenging watch, one that feels over-the-top and cavalier but also wildly arrogant. The pretension drips from every corner of the screen, and you can almost feel the director saying that he "doesn't make film, he makes art." The tiny budget doesn't hold it back, and to be honest, I'm not really sure that any part of the film holds it back from its goals. It's just that its goals don't align with nearly any other film that you've ever seen. Che is juxtaposed with Hitler, sex scenes with script readings. The All Golden is, at its heart, a film about film. Unfortunately for audiences, it's also, in the way of Seinfeld, also a film about nothing.
I am alternating in my opinion between this film being brutally unappealing and artistically brilliant. There's definitely art here, that goes without question. Is it good art, though? Or is it just the ramblings of someone who thinks they're a lot deeper than they actually are. Is there a point being made, and even more importantly, is there a point to be made? Despite having watched the film in its entirety, I'm still not sure. Does that make the film more, or less, worthwhile? The simple fact that it brought up so many questions may make the film worthwhile, or it may make it a poorly told story with little to say and even less resolution. Or it may be a dazzling, flashy, scintillating piece of art that will never be duplicated again. It's an hour and four minutes long, give it a watch and decide for yourself.
Who this movie is for: Artsy film fans, Student film lovers, Mixed media artists
Bottom line: A weird movie that won't hit home for the vast majority of its viewers, The All Golden is a hodgepodge of style and art design with little to no substance. It's oddly told but surprisingly emotional, a fever dream mixed with an acid trip and a nihilistic political movement. Or, it's all nonsensical drivel. In the end, it's a film that will make you think. Whether that's a good thing or not will depend entirely on the audience. I have a feeling that this one will be hard to find outside of Fantastic Fest, but if you get the chance, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts.