The Gold Bug
The film follows a Swedish-Argentinian co-directed film financed partly by money from a Danish festival. The film seems to have been plotted out by the Swede, a radical feminist who wants to do a biopic on 19th century proto-feminist Victoria Benedictson, using Buenos Aires as a cheap stand in for old Copenhagen. But some opportunity or other opens up in New York, so Fie-Stina never makes it to Buenos Aires, and the Argentinian co-director, who hasn’t read the script well enough to understand that Victoria was a woman’s name, and begun casting men for the lead role, allows a friend of his to hijack the production, rescheduling the shoot to take place in a small town named Leandro N. Alem, where he has discovered a great treasure of gold is hidden. A couple financiers from France and Germany gets told that the production will be on the life of the radical politician whom the town was named after – though he’d never been to that part of the country – and off everyone goes.
It is a crazy film. A mix between Treasure Island and Edgar Allen Poes The Gold Bug, with a whole lot of other references thrown into the mix. Some sections are narrated by Victoria Benedictson and Leandro N. Alem, though neither of their bio-pics ever gets made. There is a long flashback explaining the whole chain of events that led up to the gold being buried. Fie-Stina begins phoning the production constantly, demanding that the old male politician will be played by a woman anyway, to make a feminist point. At some point, several counterplots begin hatching among people in on the existence of the treasure. The whole film had a very Latin American feel, like something out of Borges, or a film by the late great Chilean filmmaker Raul Ruiz.
If one likes this kind of thing, the film is an overstuffed delight. So much goes on at all times, with for instance Argentinian men discussing South American history in the foreground while the French producer runs around with the leading lady in the background. History, politics, gender, literature, everything seems mixed up in this weird concoction. The Argentinian director is a major francophile, so some scenes in the film-within-the-film is staged like homages to old sixties French cinema. All in all, the film probably does not add up to much, and it does feel a bit longer than it should. The visual style matches the low-key adventurous spirit of the plot, but apart from some fantastic blocking, it’s not stunning or anything. A good, interesting film, unlike most made in Scandinavia.