Directed by: #ReshanFernando
Written by: Reshan Fernando
Inspired by a true story, A Gold Star Kid is an endearing short film that asks what is truly important in life and what are the things we place value in.
We meet our Gold Star Kid Matt (Bento-Connault) as he wakes from a dream filled with gunfire and other battle sounds. His bedroom is full of army toys, which he carefully re-arranges, also taking care with some dog tags and a service medal that he hangs over a picture of himself and his father. He calls for his mother who has left him a note before going out, leaving him home alone and so begins his seemingly routine process of feeding, cleaning and clothing himself. Eventually he heads out into the world, where he discovers something most kids only imagine, a twenty euro note lying in the street. Now, Matt faces a decision as to what he will do with it, and despite a few self-indulgent options along the way, chooses to do something unexpected.
This is Matt’s story, and as such the Gold Star Kid dominates the vast majority of the screen time. Bento-Connault and director Reshan Fernando between them have managed to find the right balance of showing the escalated level of maturity Matt possesses for such a young person. When Matt finds the money, he waits and waits for someone to come and reclaim it, knowing that is the right thing to do. But when no one does, then we begin to see the side that shows us he is still just a kid, having to deal with the temptations of toys and sweets, all things children would probably immediately think about if their dream of finding money in the street came true. But also, there are some moments which are much more subtle, such as watching him pick leaves from trees and climb walls as he walks around, all of which is natural childlike behaviour and is well-placed throughout.
There is a nice use of colour here, with Matt seeming to emanate a bright, golden aura which brings the eponymous character to the forefront of his story and allows him to stand out against the more subdued tones of the real world around him. Not only is it effective in this regard, but it also highlights Matt’s spirit and good moral character despite his tough circumstances, as well as imbuing a sense of hope concerning the subject matter. The score is basic, consisting of a single melodic piece, as is the camerawork, but this is all that is needed to compliment the story which is the important centrepiece here.
With strong themes and a well-paced, simple narrative, Reshan Fernando has managed to create an effective tribute to all those in the armed forces and their invaluable service.
Yes, A Gold Star Kid may be simple, but it is an important and quite moving emotional message about the things that are truly important in life.