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"The Salvation": Gorgeous-Looking, Nihilistic Western 

Wednesday, Mar 4 2015
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Ironically enough, the original adherents of the Dogme 95 manifesto of cinematic asceticism have gone on to make some of the most visually sumptuous movies in recent years, such as Lars von Triers' Melancholia or Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. Kristian Levring, director of the underrated Dogme 95 gem The King Is Alive, enters the fray with The Salvation, a gorgeous-looking western with no other aims than being a gorgeous-looking western, with the possible exception of also being a violently nihilistic yet gorgeous-looking western. Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) is a Danish settler in the American West in 1871. When his wife Marie (Nanna Øland Fabricius) and their son finally join him after seven years, they're promptly assaulted and killed by the slimy associates of a very bad man named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Much mayhem and murderin' ensues, including stylistic shout-outs to classic westerns like The Searchers and Once Upon a Time in the West, and Levring keeping the High Dynamic Range turned up to 11, especially for nighttime shots. For that matter, just because the film was shot in South Africa doesn't mean the buttes of Monument Valley immortalized in John Ford's westerns can't be featured in the distance — but all the pixels in the world can't create a greater special effect than Mads Mikkelsen's face.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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