Unless you're sitting down in front of a Larry Clark film, what you expect from a teen film is a certain sweetness and lightness of touch. While The Golden Dream does indeed explore the darker side of what it means to be an adolescent growing up in Guatemala, one time Ken Loach camera assistant Diego Quemada-Diez can't help but slip in some tender moments too - for this venture into miserablism and romance think Stand By Me by way of Pablo Larrain.
ifteen-year-old buddies Juan (Lopez), Samuel (Chajon) and Sara (Martinez), hair cut and breasts taped down in an implicit attempt to stave off the possibility of rape, decide to leave their Guatemalan shantytown for the US with the vaguest of hopes that it's 'better up north.' While waiting for the next passing train that will snake them up the spine of Central America, they are joined by the quiet Chauk (Dominquez); Juan takes a dislike to this 'Indian' mostly because he and Sara have an instant rapport despite the language barrier. As they negotiate the terrain, in-fighting, hunger and gangsters, the Mexican-US border gets ever closer...


in Nombre explored something similar but whether it's the characters' youth or that it puts its heroes in greater peril than that easy-going 2009 Mexican drama but The Golden Dream leaves a more lasting impression. It's a drama that can exist in two worlds: the sweet teen drama (clumsy gestures at bonding one makes when trying to break into a circle of friends, the subtle romantic touches, like Sara and Chauk teaching each other words) and the dangerous road movie (corrupt police, a train jacking by drug dealers). As both highlight what the world can offer – kindness and hope, cruelty and despair – The Golden Dream becomes the battleground where these opposing forces fight it out.
he director is in no hurry to tell the story – dialogue too is sparse and simple - but the scenes are short, which gives the walking pace a sense of urgency; no matter how many pit stops and side-tracks the gang have Quemada-Diez always keeps the journey going, that the destination is getting ever closer. While his climactic sequence is uncharacteristically heavy-handed but it packs a punch.
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