Goldie Review: Model Slick Woods Delivers a Breakout Debut

Goldie Review: Model Slick Woods Delivers a Breakout Debut

Full of attitude and bursting with scrappy New York style, Sam de Jong’s second feature explodes with energy and hope.

“Yo it’s your girl Goldie I’m about to kill shit today.” Goldie (played by fashion model Slick Woods in her first movie role) is a lot like the film that bears her name: full of attitude, bursting with scrappy New York style, and stuck under the thumb of a merciless system that won’t let her shine like she knows she can. At least this movie believes in her, because no one else will. No one else except maybe pint-sized fans Sherrie and Supreme, both of whom worship their 18-year-old half-sister like Goldie is already the world famous hip-hop dance star she fantasizes about becoming. But when their mom gets arrested and Goldie tries to keep her little siblings away from the long arm of child welfare services, it isn’t long before the urgency of her real life begins to chip away at the possibility of her dreams.

Written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Sam de Jong (“Prince”), who shoots the upper tip of Manhattan with a vaguely foreign sense of dislocation, “Goldie” explodes with energy and hope. Some of that urban verve is manufactured in post-production; as Goldie and her sisters run around the city, de Jong outlines their bodies with bright, wiggly blasts of drawn-in color. A body-moving beat pumps away on the soundtrack (the ambient music here is courtesy of “The Rider” composer Nathan Halpern). Every time a new character is introduced, the movie captures them in a freeze frame while either Sherrie or Supreme shouts out their name in a singsongy voice like they’re making a new friend at school. De Jong isn’t out to make his own “Run Lola Run” (as preferable as that might have been), but he flakes “Goldie” with a pop style that speaks to its heroine’s natural buoyancy even when she’s adrift in some very choppy water.


Ultimately, however, most of the film’s vitality and ride-or-die sparkle comes from Goldie herself. It’s hard to know what came first — the name, or the close-shaved yellow hairdo and eyebrow combo that pops like champagne against her brown skin — but it doesn’t matter: Either way, Goldie is a star. She’s a local icon. She’s a brand in the making. And she feels like selling her persona is the only thing that might be able to afford her a better life, and make it so that her mom and sisters don’t have to share a single room with a low-rent drug dealer named Frank (Danny Hoch).

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“Goldie” The film, like its heroine, is too stubbornly upbeat to get trapped in the doldrums or dip into poverty porn, and the residual fun of the playful first act (which is highlighted by a great bit where Goldie plays a game of whack-a-mole with a group of a rent-a-cops at a department store) sustains a measure of positive energy deep into the second. But despair is never far, and the sun is still high when Goldie snaps at her sisters that “Nobody loves us, because that’s how it is.” She drags Sherrie and Supreme to an old teacher’s house, and later to an errant member of their family, looking for any solution that isn’t overseen by the government. But nothing sticks, and the clock is ticking.

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