|Raindance Film Review: Salt|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Sunday, 07 October 2012 17:17|
Director: Diego Rougier
“You need to write with blood.”
That’s what struggling Chilean writer Sergio (Martinez) is told by his friends when they read his movie script for a Western. “You write as if you’ve never been there,” says another. The solution? Head out to the Atacama Desert and do it for himself. The problem? Everyone there keeps thinking he’s Diego.
Has he wandered into his own screenplay? Will he ever come up with an ending? And what on earth has Diego done to piss off local gunslinger Victor (Contreras)?
Everything unfolds with a post-modern vibe worthy of Charlie Kaufman, while David Bravo’s cinematography captures the cracked beauty of Chile’s dry landscape. But after lining up its pieces with careful precision, the ambitious writer/director Diego Rougier sadly loses his way.
Exploding outwards into a full saloon of characters, Salt’s grasp on the reins slips with every new cast member. There’s old man Hector (Valenzuela), a mentor with years of wisdom and the beard to prove it. There’s sexy former flame Maria (Contador). And then there’s Sergio/Diego himself.
Is it one plot strand too many for Rougier’s script? Perhaps that’s why the pace suddenly drops, never quite recapturing the tightly structured of the first half. An unexpected ending, which strides off into the sunset in a completely different pair of boots, only adds to the confusion: who’s our hero meant to be anyway?
But every few minutes, there’s another muzzle flash of greatness. “You’re going to die now? Without knowing what to do with this scene?” asks one member of the solid ensemble. It’s those quick bangs of inspiration – and bursts of grubby violence – that keep you watching. That and the excellent lead performance by Martinez’s bewildered hombre: perpetually out of breath and in need of food, he’s closer to a diseased rabbit than a cowboy.
Held together by the cast and the stylish Morricone-tinged music, Salt has all the promise of a live-action Rango, but never quite finds its feet. It certainly writes with blood – but things get a bit messy.