I haven’t written about many films that I don’t like. It’s a rule of mine. Even for those that don’t exactly fit my palate, I make sure to be even-handed in its presentation. Because writing a film is hard. Making a film is even harder. And have you ever tried funding a film? It can be a nightmare. That said, it’s clear that the lord is testing me these days because Sophie Gold, The Diary of a Gold Digger is something I wished I could’ve gotten a refund for.
In the post-Weinstein era we’ve found ourselves in, this film—taken in its entirety—is offbeat and discordant. Positioning itself as a cautionary tale about the trappings of predatory behavior in Hollywood, Sophie Gold is simultaneously The Neon Demon without the arthouse pretension and The Room without the genuine ridiculousness. It fails at defining itself in any distinguishable stylistic way like the former and lacks any of the organic but somehow earnest absurdity that the latter embodied.
“…if the film had done more to show—and not tell—how she exists, maybe we’d feel something.”
Centering on one young would-be actress Sophie Gold, the film tries to convince us that she is somehow desperately grasping for fame but also seriously caught up. Sadly, the script and the performances double-team this prospect, pummeling any sort of real emotional depth to death. Elvira Tröger is opaque, unreadable and delivers lines with a flatness that is inexplicable. Which, could’ve been used to Sophie Gold’s advantage. Complex, unapologetically selfish women are not new to the screen and if the film had done more to show—and not tell—how she exists, maybe we’d feel something. Sadly, it doesn’t. Instead, we get dead air between strangely placed lines and inorganic interactions between players. Like The Room, our subjects stand around and say lines at each other versus with each other.
And yet, unlike The Room, there’s nothing latently or even patently endearing about it. I don’t believe the friendship between Sophie and Nicky. I don’t believe that Sophie is somehow madly in love with her predatory “boyfriend,” Michael. I don’t believe that Sophie actually wants to be an actor. Everything in this film is an imitation of life, but only an imitation. There is no belief to be suspended. Everything is suspect and wooden. Again, the word flat comes to mind: flat characters, flat dialogue, and flat presentation.
“…it snuffs its own light out by failing to be both a competent film and a story that has an ounce of the impact it intended to have…”
What’s more, Sophie suffers a late-act narrative punishment that is predictable and logically dangerous. Rather than tackle that moment and make it the underlying point of the film from the beginning, Sophie Gold makes it an afterthought that is a prelude to a terrible bookend: in spite of it all, Sophie returns to her sugar daddy/abuser. Given the fact that we’re presented so many disparate, un-moving examples of her life and personality, this turn of events lacks emotional depth and impact. The cycle continues for Sophie, but we’re left wanting any kind of connection that warrants a reaction besides relief that the film has ended.
Sophie Gold, Diary of a Gold Digger had a premise that could have meant something in a political climate thirsty for faithful understandings of the terrible dynamics of an industry that’s hidden and profited off of predators. In spite of the work it does to build out a clear “loss of morals” story, the film has no pathos to back up the losses, from metaphorical to physical. At each stage, the players involved fail to give meat to the story in a meaningful fashion that provides impact to the story. The result is a collage of notions that have no grounding; a collection of scenes that come and go without resonance. Because of this, Sophie Gold snuffs its own light out by failing to be both a competent film and a story that has an ounce of the impact it intended to have in the first place.
Sophie Gold: The Diary of a Gold Digger (2017) Directed by Carol Botar. Written by Carol Botar. Starring Elvira Tröger, Gregory Niebel, and Javier Sepulveda.
1 out of 5 Toxic relationships