thatcow

Wes is a seal

First, the freckles. Icelandic actress Brynja Thora Gudnadóttir is an unlikely screen beauty. Between the field of freckles on her face and the boyish haircut, there is something natural and compelling about her. She plays Hildur, one of many who work on this sort of fish dis-assembly line in a small town in Iceland. Hildur has a sister, Svova, who also works the line. Svova's boyfriend Aggi is a fisherman, and this trio together has about as grand a time as you can in small town Iceland.

Svova moves to Reykjavik in search of a better life, leaving behind Hildur and Aggi. They decide to visit, but Aggi's car breaks down in another small town along the way, leaving them in a strange kind of limbo.

Like Hildur, the movie Salt is a curious beauty, a blending of evocative images with a loose narrative. It is difficult to follow at first - partly a result of the Dogme-ish style at work. Dialog is not used to push the story along and instead we have to pick it out ourselves. But we also spend a little too much time establishing the characters before the real story begins, and the lack of the context of something really happening makes it more difficult to relate to the characters. Is this a bad thing? In a way, the film is challenging us about what a narrative should be, but at the same time that doesn't excuse the film from lacking focus.

The film is shot on DV cameras. Some are operated by the actors themselves, and thus really a part of the scene, others are from an objective point of view. I found this confusing. The cameras were really not part of the story, and appeared and disappeared with no logic. The slice-of-life approach could excuse this randomness to a degree, but there's nothing else to support it. What we are left with is a device that calls attention to how the film was made, rather than what's happening in the frame - something quite contrary to the Dogme approach (the film is not certified, by the way, and while it's been since I read the checklist, I suspect Salt comes close, but wouldn't satisfy the requirements).

Most probably won't take much note of the acting, but it's spot on for this approach. Much of the film is actually improvised, without even the director having been present. Again, it's an interesting approach. In a way it works, but it is a strain for Hollywood-trained ears. The allegorical ending may be a problem for some folk too. Pitting the fantastic against the stark realities in the film does, however, meld well with the ideas of transformation that are developed. We are left with questions, but some are not so much unanswered as unanswerable.

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