Written and directed by Jamie Luke Milligan, on the night of their parents visit to celebrate her new job Fi returns to her brother’s flat to find him drunk, they have an hour to sober him up to keep his drinking a secret. Starring: Tom Kane and Harriet Perkins.
If you’re lucky enough to have a sibling and one that you actually get along with, it creates a special bond, one of secrets, dedication and caring which is what you find in Golden Child. It’s a perfect example of how family can reach a point where they’ve had to put up with so much that their resentment is palpable, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help. It’s filled with an exasperation, desperation, love and a healthy dose of sadness. However, one of the interesting things about the tone of this film is that it doesn’t feel overly serious and yet it manages to hit you fairly hard, leaning more into a daily struggle. It feels as though it recognises the minimal amount of time it has to explore this topic and presents the story in a way that gets the most out of that time. Instead of trying to be gritty or heavy, it’s relatable and humble.
An aspect which is undoubtedly enhanced by the performances of Tom Kane and Harriet Perkins. Perkins gives Fi a hugely sympathetic and likable persona, the ever dependable sister, constantly vying for attention from their parents but still loves her flawed brother. Kane presents a mix of stubborn yet vulnerable, pushing his character into the deepest of denials. It’s a classic example of a character who’s reached a point where it’s not enough to get help, he needs to help himself. It’s a dangerous place to be in and the performances of both Kane and Perkins acknowledge that. They show how Kane’s Toby is on the brink, facing an alcohol fuelled oblivion, and needs to stop himself from falling completely into it.
Jamie Luke Milligan’s directorial style with Golden Child feels very much in the same earnest vein of the story. There’s a friendly, welcoming colour palette which eases you into the story, then it closes in on itself to create an intimacy. With such a limited shooting space, it’s impressive how well Milligan uses the space because while it’s clear that it’s a cramped flat, it never feels claustrophobic. The style leans into the close connection between the characters and how much is hidden behind closed doors.
Golden Child is a moving and humble portrayal of alcoholism and the unbreakable relationship between siblings. It explores that while a sister will never give up on her brother, she can openly resent having to see him spiral. There’s a charming simplicity and sympathy to it but at the same time the story can hit pretty hard. It smartly chooses to present the daily struggle rather than trip over itself trying to be gritty and harsh, portraying that it’s an everyday problem, not a Hollywood one.