Sal Movie Review

February 16, 2012

Also being featured at the 22nd Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, is the Spanish/Chilean movie Sal/Salt, a fanciful and loving homage to the western genre that brings to mind classic westerns from John Ford to Sergio Leone. Director Diego Rougier’s story depicts the life of Sergio (Fele Martinez) a screenwriter with a very bad script. His western is so poorly written and lacks a compelling story, that he is told by his agent that even the names of the characters are awful. His only recourse in salvaging his script is to go to the very place where his fictional story is set, the Atacema Desert in Chile, where he hopes to bring life to a dead plot. In doing so Sergio becomes a character in a real life western thriller when he is mistaken for someone else with a secret past and a very angry enemy. After accepting an invitation from a stranger who has mistaken him for someone named Diego, Sergio is soon abducted by a mysterious villain named Victor, played by Patricio Contreras. Sergio is whisked away to a secluded shack surrounded by nothing but desert and an old man who becomes his unwilling caretaker. Sergio/Diego’s trials get even more complicated when he is visited by a sultry and fiery woman, played seductively by Javiera Contador, who was once Diego’s lover. Her passion for Diego/Sergio is still explosive as is her anger towards him for having left her behind. Sergio, for his part, is absolutely clueless to her past as he is to everything else that now seems to have befallen him. It is in this state of uncertainty that life imitates art as our poor protagonist tries to uncover the mystery unfolding before him while at the same time trying to edit his script using cues from this real life drama. Like all good scripts the protagonist must have an antagonist, a villain, and in Sergio/Diego’s case that person is Victora nemesis seeking payback for what Diego has done to him. The film is beautifully shot with wide vistas of the Chilean desert and requisite scenes popular in western films. Sal is a fun combination of parody and classic western drama. The film serves to remind us, as noted by Sergio’s agent, that a movie has to tell you something, whether a movie script or reality life can spring from even the driest desert. Catch this western Sal/Salt - is in Spanish w/English subtitles - at Cinequest Twenty Two Film Festival.

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