By Andrea Thompson
The title character of the film “Goldie” was always going to burst onto the screen, given that she’s played by model Slick Woods, who is known as much for her vibrant, uncensored persona as her work. But the film also does her justice, making it clear how much the fictional Goldie resembles her real-life counterpart (and the movie) as its old school 90s font quickly makes way for Goldie’s latest Insta post. It brings serious “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” vibes, as Goldie makes her way through a New York City that’s remained very much ungentrified, one she’s clearly at home in.
Goldie isn’t just another girl any more than Chantel was. Whether online or in a local talent show, it’s clear Goldie is a natural performer, as well as infectious, ambitious, and of course, wildly charismatic. Her reality, however, is far grimmer than the image she presents, given she resides with her two younger sisters, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend in a homeless shelter. At just 18, she nevertheless comes across as more capable than the adults in her family, being the only one with a job, and smart enough to try to stop the very much illegal money-making scheme her mother and her boyfriend are up to.
But as anyone can tell you, 18 doesn’t mean adulthood, and when Goldie’s fragile stability is ripped apart, she engages in a series of idiotic decisions that are so damn recognizable to anyone who’s ever been young and dumb – that is, all of us. That Goldie’s mother would get caught isn’t much of a surprise, but that Goldie would wind up out on the street with her two young sisters in an effort to prevent social services from getting them is more unexpected. The timing for this was never going to be good, but it’s especially bad given that Goldie is expecting to “blow up” by appearing in a rap video in a few days.
How this is going to end is fairly obvious, but god, you want things to end differently so badly for Goldie against all odds. Goldie herself knows she should be spending the money she has on essentials such as food and a hotel room, but she is chasing a dream that looms tantalizingly out of reach. Goldie’s yearning for its embodiment, a yellow coat she’s long been swooning over, would come off as pathetic if writer-director Sam de Jong weren’t so attuned to his fiercely determined protagonist and the Bronx neighborhood that both nourishes and stifles her. We don’t condemn, we empathize when Goldie takes bigger and bigger risks to achieve her goal, as the people she reluctantly turns to all prove to be mostly, and understandably, inadequate to take on the burden that has fallen on her.
With another director, this might be the stuff of shallow melodrama, but Sam de Jong keeps the retro flourishes coming, along with the vibrant humor that ensures that not only Goldie, but her harsh world and those who populate it, come off as all the more vital despite what many of them are up against. It’s how he manages to keep the film’s startlingly resilient optimism alive in the face of the devastating realization Goldie is forced to come to by the film’s end. Whatever life has to offer her, you get the sense that Goldie will always meet it on her terms.