An insidiously addictive suspense drama, 2019’s top-notch British mini-series GOLD DIGGER, comes to DVD, via the folks at Acorn/RLJ Entertainment/itv Studios/Mainstream Pictures, Ltd.
The six-episode program, spread over two discs, chronicles the not-so-lovely lifestyle of the mega-rich Day family. Divorced and feeling useless (and with her 60th birthday approaching), talented matriarch Julia (a once-promising career professional/artist), now virtually abandoned by her grown children (who nevertheless still prey on her), enjoys taking trips to the city and losing herself in museums, curiosity shops and small cafes. It’s at one of these outings that she runs into the thirtyish Ben, whose humor, intelligence, and (admittedly) sexuality rivals hers. And what may at first seem like a mature woman and a boy toy quickly evolves into a full-blossomed romance.
End of story? Hell, no. The seas are choppy, to say the least. And full of sharks.
While these days we love to see scumbag rich dudes and their worthless spawn get theirs – here it’s not so cut and dried. Della, Julia’s daughter, isn’t quite the bitch one initially supposes. And at least one of the two risible sons has married a loving, sensitive (and sensible) level-headed person who may or may not be aware of his serial cheating.
Of course, there’s Ted, the ex-husband – a total slime-ball, now living with Marsha, Julia’s former best friend! Turns out, he not only fooled around, but used to beat his spouse, once requiring an EMS response.
Not that Ben is any angel either. He has a dubious history, and an even more fragile connection to Kieran, a horrible sibling (who, naturally, turns up). The prerequisite “he only wants you for your money” talk early on rears its ugly head, and is quasi-forgiven, but the chance discovery of a mysterious death in Ben’s and Kieran’s past can’t be sloughed off.
These and many more secrets are intertwined with lies and even truths throughout the course of the show, each installment being devoted to another character in Julia’s existence (Her Boy, Her Daughter, Her Rival, Her Husband, Her Baby, Her Love).
The writing (scripted by the show’s creator Marnie Dickens) and directing (Vanessa Caswill, David Evans) is first-rate, as is the widescreen photography (Jean-Philippe Gossart, Sergio Delagdo) of the Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon locales. An appropriate music score (Stuart Earl) appends the drama; however, it’s the extraordinary performances that make GOLD DIGGER a must-watch. Bravo to Ben Barnes (as Ben), Sebastian Armesto, Archie Renaux, Jemima Rooper (as the ungrateful, greedy brats), Alex Jennings (as the abusive spouse), Nikki Amuka-Bird (as the “with friends like her” ex-bestie), David Leon (as Ben’s creepy reptilian brother), Yasmine Akram (as the decent daughter-in-law), Karla-Simone Spence, Fleur Keith, Julie McKenszie, William Vassey, Indica Watson, Tylan Bayram and Kate Kennedy. A special nod to star Julia Ormond enacting the finest role of her career (to date); she is absolutely superb.
Acorn’s slipcovered DVD set of GOLD DIGGER beautifully visually and audibly captures the literal and emotional colors necessary to put the proceedings over the top (no Joshua Logan production this!). A 21-minute behind-the-scenes featurette is also included as an extra.
A cynical, dark modern romance steeped in mystery, GOLD DIGGER is the perfect way to spend an engrossing weekend afternoon.
GOLD DIGGER. Color. Widescreen [1.66:1; 16 x 9 anamorphic]; 5.1 stereo-surround. Acorn/RLJ Entertainment/itv Studios/Mainstream Pictures, Ltd. CAT # AMP-2850. SRP: $39.99.