First-time director and talented young actress Marion Kerr (HEART OF NOW) brings us the psychological indie thriller GOLDEN EARRINGS. Marion crafts a film that is one part Hollywood history lesson (with wonderful references to old greats like Rudolph Valentino and James Dean), and one part M. Night Shyamalan homage. This film keeps you guessing until the last moment, and even then I had to wonder what REALLY happened.
There are several things about this film that stand out. The first are the stellar performances by a very fresh group of young actors. Most notable is the performance by the lead actress Julia Marchese who plays Ronnie. The emotional roller-coaster that she is put through during the movie is handled effortlessly by some solid acting on her part, and with then exception of a couple of lines that could have used a second or third take, there is absolutely nothing that would make me believe that she was anyone BUT her character. Marion’s turn as Sara is haunting and twisted. I very much appreciated that they didn’t go heavy on special effects or makeup for her scenes because that would have really ruined the illusion they were trying to portray in the film. Other faces in this film include John T. Woods, Lauren Mora, Teddy Goldsmith, and Anthony Dimaano. Watching these folks made me feel like I was watching a made-for-MTV sitcom, except that their performances trump anything that the people on “The Hills” could offer up. I would be all too happy to go into more about the story of this movie, but I really think that too much exposition on my part would ruin a good portion of the suspense you would get going into it blind. So instead I’ll offer my usual critique of the technical aspects of this movie.
The cinematography is pretty standard fare, which is not a knock against the flick at all. The director of photography Alex Simon doesn’t feel the need to use any special camera tricks, odd angles, or annoying uses of depth-of-field to convey the story, rather letting the camera linger almost a second too long (but not quite) to capture these phenomenal performances and chilling images. The only thing that would have made the movie a little more complete would have been the use of a little more score throughout some of the scenes. I realize that they might have been trying really make the audience feel the emptiness of the apartment during some scenes for when the scares came up we were hit harder. I think they would have benefited more from some musical cue changes rather than just the complete silence. On that note though, the audio in general was crisp and clear, and the music that was used fit the soundtrack perfectly and didn’t feel layered on. Also points go to the sound designer for the use of a stopwatch tick to signify some of the eerie scenes.
The payoff in the final scene of the movie is completely worth the wait, with Marion Kerr (also the screenwriter) giving us a Hitchcockian ending that many other suspense writers should take a note from. This low budget film is worth every penny that was put on the screen, and should certainly be considered as a future classic.
GOLDEN EARRINGS Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - Ronnie and Sara are best friends and roommates. And for Ronnie, Sara is her whole world. She does everything with her and their small group of friends. But one day, Sara suddenly disappears and Ronnie is left with a hole in her life that she cannot deal with. And her apparent guilt over something she's done causes everything in her life to collapse. Despite her friends attempts to calm her, Ronnie sinks deeper and deeper into her loneliness. Until one day, Ronnie suddenly starts 'seeing' Sara. Or does she? No one else can see her except for Ronnie. Is it Sara's ghost? Ronnie's imagination? And why does Ronnie feel so guilty about Sara's disappearance? Sometimes, your friends aren't who you think they are.