The Lure

Review by Matt Turner

Directed by

Tomas Leach

Starring

Amanda Fry Paulina Longenbaugh

Anticipation.

Tomas Leach made a feature doc about Saul Leiter and some decent shorts, but nothing major.

Enjoyment.

Eccentric characters, beautiful scenery.

In Retrospect.

Good visuals, compelling subject, but the conclusion is a little simplistic.

This real-life Treasure of the Sierra Madre follows avid gold seekers on a strange literary adventure.

“People like adventure. They like to be part of the mystery of the unknown.” Hidden within art dealer and author Forrest Fenn’s novel, ‘The Thrill of the Chase’ is a short poem purportedly leading to a treasure buried somewhere in the American Southwest, each of its nine stanzas offering a separate cryptic clue.

Tomas Leach’s The Lure explores the varying psychological drives that compel thousands to obsessively search for this haul, as well as delving into the motivations of their ringleader, Fenn, a masterful creator of myth and mystery and a gift of a documentary subject.

In between hunks of context provided by interspersed news segments and suitably enigmatic statements from Fenn, Leach layers beautiful landscape cinematography over his conversations with the hunters.

Transforming what could be a rudimentary talking heads documentary into something a little more cinematic, the visuals convey a sense of the spectacular terrain that initially draws the searchers to this quixotic pursuit, while his interviews probe further into their psyches to find what fuels them to keep coming back. Leach’s conclusion is too obvious. What connects those struck by “gold fever” is not really the contents of the chest but the sense of purpose the search provides. These lost souls are all looking to fill a particular void.

The Lure lacks focus and the testimonies can be ambling, yet there is something quietly tragic about the film, not just in the obsessive conviction of looking for something that may not even exist, but also in the cult of personality that exists around Forrest Fenn. His claimed obsession with storytelling seems to be a cover for a more primal desire for fame and legacy, and ultimately for control. When asked why he buried the treasure, he says: “I’m the only person in the world who knows where it is. That’s powerful.”

Published 7 Sep 2017

Anticipation.

Tomas Leach made a feature doc about Saul Leiter and some decent shorts, but nothing major.

Enjoyment.

Eccentric characters, beautiful scenery.

In Retrospect.

Good visuals, compelling subject, but the conclusion is a little simplistic.

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