The largest lake in California becomes a symbol of a lost idyll in DJ Caruso's excellent noir
-ish thriller The Salton Sea
. Val Kilmer is superb as lowlife Danny Parker, or perhaps trumpeter Thomas Van Allen; a man so far over the edge in tragedy, duplicity and drugs he no longer knows or cares who he is. A warped revenge drama occupying similar territory to Memento
, The Salton Sea
is not as ingenious as that instant classic, but is more elegantly stylised, boasting superb production design, cinematography and music, the latter by Thomas Newman
. Along for the ride is Deborah Kara Unger, and those who remember her from The Game
will do well to take Kilmer's narration to heart when he says nothing is as it seems. Distinguishing what could have been simply a good thriller are elements not just of humour, but of laugh-out-loud hilarity funnier than most recent comedies; indeed, The Salton Sea
is the most striking fusion of laughter and darkness since the admittedly very different An American Werewolf in London
(1981). In this respect, Vincent D'Onofrio delivers a side-splitting and audacious performance as drug baron Pooh Bear. Watch out for the rabid badger.
On the DVD: The Salton Sea is presented anamorphically enhanced at 1.77:1, with a flawless picture that captures the rich tones and extreme visual contrasts to perfection. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is crystal clear and deeply atmospheric. Extras are the theatrical trailer, plus features on the production design (eight minutes) and cast and crew (nine minutes). More intelligent than the expected Electronic Press Kit material, the running length means they are still fairly perfunctory. --Gary S Dalkin
She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. An unexpected and brutal crime leaves an innocent woman dead at the hands of masked gunmen, her husband left powerless to prevent it. Obsessed with finding his wife's killers, Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) is set adrift in the dangerous, seedy underworld of Los Angeles, where nothing is what it seems, especially Danny.