(SCREENED AT THE 2003 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL.) For a while, I had an awful feeling about SALT, which begins in a rather aimless fashion, with so much shaky up-close-and-personal hand-held camera stuff that I began to regret not having kept the barf bag they gave me at the CABIN FEVER screening. And I'm still not sure what the title means. But by the time the end credits rolled, SALT had burned a hole in my brain--it's affecting in a way that's not easy to explain, but it carries real power.Shot in Iceland with an Icelandic cast that speaks nothing but Icelandic, SALT was made by an American director, Bradley Rust Gray, who wasn't sure what his actors were saying at any time (the film was partly improvised). The story develops naturally, almost indifferently; scenes follow one another with no particular urgency. It centers on two teenage sisters, who live out in the Icelandic version of the boondocks. One of them eventually leaves for the big city, making the trip by car with her boyfriend. The car breaks down en route, leaving these two lovers stranded. And that's pretty much it as far as the plot goes.
Imagine Jim Jarmusch gone Dogme 95--that's what SALT feels like, with its tinny plot and faux documentary style. Somehow, it works. By eschewing conventional story development and letting his actors breathe, Gray achieves a raw cumulative force; the film is greater than the sum of its parts. And because its effects aren't forced, it feels true--the deadpan comedy sneaks up on you.SALT is oddly resonant--it haunts the memory.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.