ImagineNATIVE 2016: The Land of Rock and Gold
After her partner Willie mysteriously disappears, a panicked Rochelle (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs) suspects that something grave might have occurred. Her fears only worsen when she locates his truck deep in the woods near the frozen body of an unknown dead man. With their son Dimitri in tow, Rochelle frantically begins a one-woman search that quickly consumes every aspect of her life. Neglecting her responsibilities as a mother, and with child services breathing down her neck, Rochelle’s decision making abilities grow increasingly worse with each passing day.
Soon she is not only struggling to navigate her own web of deceit caused by her obsession, but also putting Dimitri in harm’s way in the process. As her life teeters close the point of no return, Rochelle must take an honest look at whether finding Willie is worth losing everything.
Though The Land of Rock and Gold has all the makings of an interesting character study, the film never quite justifies why the audience should care about Rochelle’s quest in the first place. Furthermore, the more that is learned about Willie, the more one cannot help but wonder what is it about him that Rochelle is addicted to? By all accounts he is far from a good father and partner, and has plenty of secrets of his own, secrets that only succeed in hurting Rochelle.
Furthermore, partly due to the way the narrative unfolds, the sense of mystery never really hits the right notes. There is a choppiness to the way the viewer observes Rochelle’s journey towards independence. Characters come and go throughout her travels, some making claims that the film never really explores, without us every really getting a sense of who they really are. On top of that, Rochelle makes so many poor decisions in the film that it becomes hard to sympathize with her actions after a while.
There is an intriguing story to be told with this subject matter, unfortunately The Land of Rock and Gold fails to convincingly show us why we should care about the characters or the situations they find themselves.