Saturday, 21 February 2015


Superficial styling decorates superficial content in Kristian Levring's off-kilter Western. The Salvation appears to exist as an exercise in assessing the dynamics of a Western told with a European sensibility, and on African terrain. The result is a little peculiar only, and no more tonally nor texturally remarkable than that, its oddness possibly stemming from its lack of uniqueness and not the opposite. Levring seems sold on the notion that the pieces he has assembled for the formation of a revisionist classic possess an innate importance, a naturally compelling quality that's absent for much of The Salvation - thousand-yard glowers just ring hollow if we either don't know or don't care what's behind them. The cast is comprised of a band of names that promise to be as ill-fitting as they eventually prove - I'm no less capable than anyone else of overlooking apparent stunt casting and naively relenting to the pull of the narrative, but Mads Mikkelsen's pensive ennui isn't a close enough match for the hardened cynicism of the type of Western hero he's emulating, and Eva Green is plainly in the wrong type of film. Levring's stylistic ideas amount mostly to as faithful a physical recreation of the Old West as he can muster on foreign soils, then disguised by a hideous visual scheme that dials up the contrast to a nasty saturation level. He's only correct that there's a naturally compelling quality to anything at all in his concept - the innocent man wrongly accused will forever earn an audience's interest - it's just not nearly sufficient to excuse The Salvation's flaws.