The Salvation

"Excellent"

The Salvation Review


Just when you thought no one could come up with a fresh take on the Western, the Danes arrive with this astonishingly earthy and inventive film, shot in South Africa no less. Director Kristian Levring uses all of the usual elements without ever resorting to cliches, which makes the film strikingly involving. Not only are the characters people we can identify with, but their moral dilemmas are strikingly provocative. Especially as the violence escalates.

The story opens in 1871, as Danish immigrant Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) welcomes his wife (Nanna Oland Fabricius) and young son to the American prairie where he has worked for seven years. But on the way home from the station, they are ambushed by outlaws. After a desperate struggle, Jon manages to kill them, but this puts him on the wrong side of the local boss Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who enforces cooperation from the town's mayor-undertaker (Jonathan Pryce) and sheriff-priest (Douglas Hensall). So aside from his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), Jon has nowhere to turn. His only hope of justice is to deliver it himself.

Adding an intriguing layer is the fact that Jon and Peter are veterans of Denmark's civil war, just as the locals are survivors of America's. So everyone has war in their blood. The Danish brothers have vowed to turn their backs on violence and build a lawful society, so the flurry of clashes, kidnappings and killings with Delarue's goons (including Eric Cantona) are tinged with regretfulness. And the script never lets the audience off lightly: in the Wild West, no one is safe. Civilisation has only begun to arrive in this isolated place, but the discovery of oil has replaced old world values with pure, unfiltered greed. Yes, there's a lot more going on here than the usual swaggering Western machismo. And the casting has as much to do with that as the script.

Mikkelsen isn't the usual cowboy. He's a sensitive, calm man who would rather avoid conflict and maintain his decency. So his descent into violent action isn't seen as something triumphant at all. It's also about justice, not vengeance, which further sets this film apart. And the cast around him add terrific textures: Pryce and Henshall are wonderfully weaselly, Morgan is a fearsome bully, and Eva Green adds an unexpected kick as a victimised woman waiting for her chance to strike. At its core this is a remarkable exploration of how immigrants created American society from elements of their homelands in the dangerously unstable ruins of a nasty war. So the film says more about us right now than we expect it to.


The Salvation Trailer

 



The Salvation

Facts and Figures

Genre: Western

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th February 2015

Box Office USA: $4.7k

Budget: $10.5M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Zentropa Productions, Forward Films, Spier Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Michael Auret, Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Starring: as Madelaine, as John, as Delarue, as Corsican, as Peter, as Mallick, as Paul, as Keane

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