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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Salton Sea (review)

The question was raised round this time last year: Would Memento have been as interesting run forward? As here’s the answer, kinda, in The Salton Sea, a stylishly brutal tale of revenge, trumpets, and exploding meth labs. Val Kilmer is a burnt-out speed freak who snitches to the cops. No, wait, he’s a grief-stricken musician who’s out for vengeance against his beautiful dead wife’s murderers. No, wait– Twists abound, but it’s the nightmarishly unforgettable characters who make this simultaneously exhilarating and wearying film worth a look-see: Kilmer’s (Red Planet) Danny Parker, who embodies everything that makes the actor so intriguing, hard-bitten and hard-won sensitivity roiling beneath a deceptively calm exterior; Pooh-Bear, a deranged drug dealer and meth cook who positively makes your skin crawl, played by the always riveting Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell), all but unrecognizable under a chunky layer of fat and an unlikely prosthetic device; plus a host of others manifested by a dream cast that includes Anthony LaPaglia, Luis Guzman, B.D. Wong, and Adam Goldberg. Tony Gayton’s (Murder by Numbers) script doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before, but director D.J. Caruso’s grimy visual veneer and Kilmer’s absorbing performance increase the gravitational pull considerably.


MPAA: rated R for strong viloence, drug use, language and some sexuality

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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