Get our free newsletter
“What do you want up there, Juan?” Sara asks as they sit by a railroad track they hope will whisk them northward, one step closer to the U.S. border. “If I tell you, it won’t come true,” Juan replies dismissively. But it’s clear he has little idea himself. The Golden Dream (La Jaula de Oro in Spanish) begins with teenaged Sara chopping off her hair, wrapping her chest, and doing her meager best to pass for a boy, while Juan stuffs some bills into his pocket and the two of them set off from Guatemala. Their motives are unclear—limited in the film to periodic dreamlike shots of falling snow—and their strategy for getting to the States even less so. In between them and their destination stand bandits, corrupt cops, immigration officials, a border fence, and a linguistically and romantically messy partnership with an indigenous teen they meet. A few truly joyful moments aside, the film’s mostly a downer, and a deliberately uncomfortable watch.