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The Independent Critic

Julia Marchese, Marion Kerr, John T. Woods, Anthony Dimaano, Lauren Mora, Teddy Goldsmith
Marion Kerr
81 Mins.

 "Golden Earrings" Review 
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Have you ever craved something, or someone, so intensely that it drove you completely crazy?

Have you ever looked around and found yourself completely confounded by the circumstances in which you found yourself living?

Have you ever wondered if someone would really love you if they knew the real you?

These ideas, and most assuredly others, will weave their way through your thoughts, ideas and feelings as you watch Golden Earrings, a small indie jewel written, directed by and co-starring Marion Kerr in a tale that expertly intertwines psychological horror with psychosocial intimacy, the mundane realities of friendship with the unspoken darker side of petty jealousies and long harbored resentments.

Ronnie (Julia Marchese) and Sara (Kerr) are best friends and, for Ronnie, Sara is her entire world. When Sara mysteriously disappears after leaving for a weekend visit to her mother's to sort out relationship issues, Ronnie's world takes on an increasing unpredictability as supernatural elements seem to take hold of her and her apartment while her friends struggle with supporting Ronnie and dealing with their own feelings around Sara's disappearance.

In her feature film directing debut, Marion Kerr has created a stellar example of the best that indie cinema has to offer and proof positive that intelligent, thought-provoking and emotionally resonant cinema can be created on any budget given a talented cast and crew along with a marvelous story. All these things are in abundance in Golden Earrings, a perfectly cast film with a story that unfolds in layers and leaves the viewer astounded at what has just unfolded.

Golden Earrings is a film that commands more than a single viewing, a film personified whose layers will slowly peel away in your psyche' long after the closing credits have rolled.

What is it REALLY about? You will need to decide for yourself.

What is unquestionable is that Julia Marchese, as a young woman seemingly losing her grip on reality if she ever had it, gives a masterfully disciplined and finely nuanced portrayal that is simultaneously horrifying yet surprisingly empathetic. It is impossible to not care about Ronnie, who constantly feels just a touch "off" but also feels like that slightly off-kilter friend we all have of which we simply can't quite let go. As her actions and motivations seemingly reveal themselves, it is a testimony to Marchese's gifts as an actress that the audience is left constantly wondering "Is she crazy?" or "Is she grieving?" or "Is there something else going on?"

Again, you will need to decide.

It is easy to understand why Ronnie, a pretty yet heavier and less popular young woman, would be so infatuated with Sara, a vivacious and beautiful young girl who seemingly captivates a room with her mere presence. As Sara, Marion Kerr travels from vibrancy to a darker spiritual presence and, perhaps, back again with equal zest and believability. Marchese and Kerr, longtime real-life friends, weave a convincing yet tension-filled intimacy that seems to embody the underlying tension that can often exist in female friendships when there are secrets and resentments left unspoken. The ability of both Kerr and Marchese to exist peacefully within this tension adds an electricity to Golden Earrings that is palpable and mesmerizing.

While many smaller indie flicks struggle to create convincing production values and to cast smaller roles with competent actors, Golden Earrings is a definite exception to this very general rule. Lauren Mora, John T. Woods, Teddy Goldsmith and Anthony Dimaano all serve up solid performances and are given moments to shine throughout the film in scenes that range from the seemingly normal "going away" party to the subtle and supernatural.

Proving that less is often considerably more, Kerr and her production team expertly utilize the film's modest budget by creating modest yet convincing supernatural special effects that convince on a simple, emotional level rather than a full-on sensory overload. The special effects often feel like those created in 1970's horror flicks, simple yet chilling and remarkably effective. Alex Simon's camera work nicely capture's the story's journey by creating visuals that are both intimate yet complex. Carey Rothman's production design is convincingly understated, with the exception of Ronnie's ever-changing makeup design and rapidly changing appearance. Herman Witkam's original score is a satisfying mixture of sublime and serene, haunting and eerily innocent.

Golden Earrings has already garnered praise from noted directors Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) and Joe Dante (Gremlins), and will be having its official world premiere during the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado from April 23-25, 2010. For more information on Golden Earrings and to keep track of upcoming screenings, check out the film's website listed above.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic