Jeffrey's Review of The Salton Sea
The Salton Sea(2002)
The Salton Sea offers a familiar base story, but with a very unconventional sense of style and dramatic flourish. At it's heart, it's about a broken man dealing with the trauma of his wife's murder (not exactly unheard of), couched in a neo-noir setting filled with drugs and decadence.
The world building of Salton Sea is undoubtedly it's great attribute, the film does a great job of depicting a subculture, and is especially skilled at promoting authentic relationships by its characters. This is helped by the strong performances from the cast, with Peter Sarsgaard turning in an amazing supporting performance, and even Val Kilmer doing some good work (albeit in his classic dejected way).
The script is strong at points, and weak at others. I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue exchanges, but the plot twists seemed ill set-up and not well written toward the later half of the film. The climax and last act is especially disappointing, losing a lot of the built up realism, and opting for something more cliched, while also implausible.
Technically, Salton Sea has great cinematography, and keeps a fairly good balance between it's stylistic touches and keeping it grounded, with only a few of the unconventional narrative devices feeling "gimmicky".
Despite some weaknesses toward the end, Salton Sea is a solid dramatic neo-noir film, with indie sensibilities that are executed well on a technical level, making it worth watching.