It’s a little late in the day for a Garth Brooks parody, but Mickey Reece’s Country Gold is fully aware of its own obsolescence. Garth analog Troyal Brux (Reece) has it all—hit records, a perfect family, and a bland, imperturbable self-regard. When country legend George Jones (Ben Hall) asks for a meeting in Nashville, Troyal assumes it’ll be a chance for the mutual admiration of greats—a passing of the torch. George, though, is a craggy, weather-beaten vortex of bitter decadence. Will he tempt Troyal to stray from his good ol’ boy faith and rectitude?
The fame-corrupts-the-innocent plot is an elaborate send-up, as is just about everything in the film, which hovers somewhere between a surreal Christopher Guest mockumentary and Hal Hartley’s deadpan irony. The black-and-white cinematography is as stark as George’s self-pity (“I don’t have a conscience! I’m just a pipe for fluids to pass through!”) or Troyal’s moral crossroads. George is planning to get himself cryogenically frozen. He tells stories about killing a man for the mob and performing a sting for the FBI in between getting a hand job and snorting large amounts of illicit substances. The music that would be the point in a less arch film is studiously avoided; the one fully realized country song is belted out not by the stars, but by Troyal’s unborn fetus, serenading its umbilical cord in the womb.
The film is in it for the giggles in part. But it also enjoys giving country music’s authenticity fetish a solid kick in its big dumb hat. A new movie in which someone very like the almost forgotten Garth Brooks worries about his legacy can’t help but skewer and perhaps celebrate the carny mythic hick hype of both C&W and America. The George Jones up onscreen is as fake as the gold shitkicker boots supposedly worn by John Fogerty. Only Troyal’s impenetrable, tedious, and maybe noble self-deception rings true. 84 min.
Limited release in theaters; Alamo Wrigleyville; streaming on Fandor