Filmmaker Tomas Leach offers up his sophomore feature The Lure, a sombre-toned study of an eccentric millionaire who hides $3 million of gold in the Rocky Mountains, luring thousands of fortune-seekers out on a wild goose chase in search of riches and redemption.
Seven years ago, former art dealer Forrest Fenn decided to hide $3 million worth of treasure somewhere in the Rockies, with the only clues to its location found within his book, Thrill of the Chase. We meet various characters, all of whom spend their days hunting for the gold: some are doing it as a hobby, others as an obsession. While the gold is the hook of the story, the subtext is the obsessive nature of the characters, and the dream that wealth will solve all their problems: an outdated version of the American Dream, but one that isn’t built on how hard you work – but how hard you hunt.
We hear the back story to each of the character’s lives. One is a former cop who was discharged from duty after an injury from a fight. Then there is a former Californian programmer that has packed in life as a developer, grown a beard, and spends his days branding steers and prospecting for gold. One woman describes it as a replacement for the partner she doesn’t have, and has spent $30,000 in the pursuit of the hidden treasure. Leach’s camera remains sympathetic to these characters. He doesn’t judge, and for a time it is intriguing to see why these people are so obsessed with this myth.
Every so often we get past footage of Fenn, as well as some new interviews. He comes across as a showman, a Wizard of Oz-type character who is enjoying the attention and the power he holds over these people. There’s a fleeting reference to a murky past and how he has been embroiled in more than one federal case: a quick Google and you will find there is much more to this part of the story, neglected by Leach. You begin to wonder if the treasure is real, or is this some elaborate hoax by Fenn who is enjoying the power-trip and media attention. At one point Fenn claims, “We are all charlatans to some degree.” – not exactly an encouraging statement.
Joseph Walsh | @JosephDAWalsh