Vincenzo Ricchiuto makes his directorial debut with the thriller The Goldsmith. Written by Ricchiuto and Germano Tarricone, the film opens with an overly edited sequence in which some kids stab a guy they were stealing from. After that superfluous beginning, the actual story picks up years later. Stefano (Mike Cimini), Arianna (Tania Bambaci), and Roberto (Gianluca Vannucci) are criminals whose relationship seems dependent on theft, sex, and drugs.
Their latest target is an elderly goldsmith who lives in rural Italian countryside. Breaking in is easy enough, but the trio must awaken Antonio (Giuseppe Pambieri) and his wife, Giovanna (Stefania Casini), as locating his lab full of jewelry and gold is impossible. The couple complies and shows the thieves the way in, who then leave the goldsmith and his spouse handcuffed to chairs. Unbeknownst to Stefano, Arianna, and Roberto is that the lab’s door automatically shuts after so long, trapping them inside with a way out. Antonio and Giovanna escape from their cuffs and proceed to toy with the trapped thieves, sowing distrust among the lifelong pals. What is the goldsmith playing? Will the burglars escape? Do they even deserve to?
Ricchiuto executes a maddeningly intense first two-thirds. The set-up and break-in are exhaustively engaging. The thieves have a compelling dynamic with each other and make sense as partners in crime. Antonio and Giovanna are adorable and sweet, coming across as a believable couple who have been in love for ages. Once the goldsmith starts messing with the invaders, The Goldsmith seems to enter Don’t Breathe territory. Flipping the tables on the invaders and exploring character dynamics is an excellent way of keeping the intensity while allowing for fully fleshed people to populate the screenplay.
“Antonio and Giovanna escape from their cuffs and proceed to toy with the trapped thieves…”
Then, the third act hits. It is admittedly a bold twist and surprising, given everything that happened beforehand. It is also a letdown, relying on genre tropes without explaining why this would happen. Unfortunately, there’s also not enough known about the thieves to understand how this new scenario will truly affect them. It’s a shame, too, because the home invasion/theft aspect is very interesting, and this new angle could also be excellent if it were set up better. But it rubs against the first hour or so and ends on a disappointing note.
Still, The Goldsmith works because the cast is very dedicated. Pambieri is masterful as the calm, calculating Antonio. Even when the ridiculous twist rears its head, the actor keeps the goldsmith a compelling figure. His chemistry with Casini is perfect, as their two characters feel very much in love. It helps that her comedic timing is on point, leading to some funny bits. Cimini’s a believable tough guy, while Bambaci earns empathy from the audience. Vannucci’s explosive temper is a real threat and helps keep the stakes high.
The Goldsmith is two-thirds a thrill-a-minute masterstroke. While the final 20 or 30 minutes abruptly change course and don’t mesh with what came before, it is still a solid flick. The acting is great, and the tension is so exhilarating that the film is carried to its finale with enough goodwill to be worth a watch.
"…the cast is very dedicated."