Nothing Golden: “Ulee’s Gold”

The 1997 film Ulee’s Gold, by Victor Nunez, is a tough but friendly drama about a beekeeper (Peter Fonda) and his screwed-up family. Mick LaSalle was one of the few critics who understood how inadequate the work is.

In my view Nunez’s direction is barely passable, if it is even that, and his plot (in the Nunez-penned screenplay) is weak and contrived. Crooks look for abundant dough hidden away by a fellow crook (the beekeeper’s son)—a trite idea, this. The son’s drug-addicted wife hangs around with the greedy crooks and just happens to tell them about the dough. Etc. LaSalle points out that Nunez can really blow it with dialogue, citing the following exchange between Ulee and his young granddaughter:

Granddaughter: “I’m sad.”

Ulee: “You like sad?” [A dumb question.]

Granddaughter: “No, but sometimes, inside, it makes

you quiet.”

Words like these confirm for me that Ulee’s Gold has a lot of admiring people fooled.

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