A moving, often terrifying and occasionally warm road movie with something urgent and important to say about our world, ‘The Golden Dream’ tells of four teens trying to make a journey across land from Guatemala to the United States via Mexico. One of the four, Chauk, is indigenous and speaks no Spanish; another, Sara (Karen Martínez), cuts her hair short, tapes her breasts and pretends to be a boy; Juan (Brandon López) is wary of Chauk and jealous of his interest in Sara; and Samuel (Carlos Chajon) is not sure he’s up to this arduous trip by foot, truck, boat and train.
Director and co-writer Diego Quemada-Díez condenses many acute observations about life as an emigrant into a sure-footed, credible story. He invests a great deal of compassion in these four characters without allowing that to distort the uncomfortable truths of such a tale: this is a horrific, dangerous and desperate way of eking out a future. Their dream is life in the US. The reality, of course, is a nightmare, although there are welcome flashes of goodwill and solidarity along the way that suggest that decency and desperation are not mutually exclusive.