‘Land of Gold’ (2022) Review: Shows the Importance of Humanity and Togetherness
Nardeep Khurmi’s Land of Gold is a film that explores the importance of family and identity. The film explores Kiran (Khurmi, who stars, writes and directs) as a first-generation Punjabi American and the consequences he suffered from others trying to live the American dream and how sometimes it doesn’t apply to everyone. A heartwarming and poignant film that follows the male protagonist on a road trip when he encounters an undocumented Mexican American Elena (Caroline Valencia). Land of Gold unfolds multiple layers of humanity, isolation, and healing in the face of adversity and responsibility.
The film begins with Kiran, a truck driver and soon-to-be father, and his wife, Preeti (Pallavi Sastry) celebrating the birth of their son with friends and family. He’s been anxious about the arrival of his first-born child, and his mother (Riti Sachdeva) doesn’t make it easy for him to host the event. Preeti, who is 37 weeks pregnant, finds out that Kiran has taken a trucking job close to the baby’s due date and she doesn’t want him to go. Despite her wishes, he leaves because they need the money. After the shipping container is assigned to him, he remembers his father (Iqbal Theba), with whom he has taken a few road trips in his truck and some traumatic memories which haunt him. Suddenly, he finds Elena hiding in his truck, she hopes to catch a ride with him so that she can find her uncle in Boston. After Elena reassures that she got her parent’s permission, Kiran agrees to take her across the country, and their relationship unfolds, despite how dangerous it is.
Throughout the entire film, it explores Kiran’s anxieties about being a soon-to-be father and how he would never be able to do right for his family. Part of this is because he grew up with a father, who was flawed in many ways and battled with his demons every day. At one point, through flashbacks, Kiran witnesses his father getting arrested by the cops. These experiences haunted him and it is difficult for him to reconcile with his complex relationship with his father. On the other hand, Elena has troubles of her own. She blames herself for actions that weren’t her fault, to begin with, and has difficulty trusting people. Even at a young age, she understands the risks her family has taken to get where they are and knows that she has lost too much. Both of these characters are burdened with different situations, and it touches on the emotional aspect of being ‘outsiders’ in America. Even though their backgrounds and cultures are different, they need each other to have final hope in the midst of all the sadness and tragedy.
Land of Gold doesn’t try to be manipulative. It shows the importance of humanity and togetherness, and how both of those elements are important to each other. It’s the kind of film that makes viewers emotional when they least expect it. There are so many quiet and intimate moments between Kiran and Elena as they begin to understand and trust each other. They engage in their cultures, food, music, family, and religion, and Kiran opens up about his difficulty practising religion in America. The film also dives into America’s perception of immigrants. In many scenes, strangers assume that Kiran doesn’t speak English and the police ask to take a quick look around his truck followed by a question on whether tikka or tikka masala is better. The message is quiet and meaningful, in the sense that it provides an understanding of the kind of expectations and experiences immigrants such as Kiran are faced with in America.
In the end, Kiran learns to let go of his traumatic past. It’s an emotional moment where learns that he doesn’t have to pass on his father’s mistakes to his child and part of it is unlearning the generational trauma left by his parents. Khurmi’s script and direction are exceptional, as it explores the deep layers of immigration, family, isolation, and sacrifice, in an intimate narrative and thematic structure. It’s engaging and never provides a dull moment with the brilliant cinematography of Christopher Low, who provides a breathtaking portrayal of reflection, the past and the future. Land of Gold is an emotional journey of two people who learn the profound truth that they are never alone in the universe. It’s unpredictable and reminds viewers that love and life bond people together. Memories and trauma are the only lessons we all learn throughout the journey called life.