Short Film Review: Salt (2009)

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Full Title: Salt (a story of passion, art and a condiment)

As one of the "mavens" providing great tips on how to produce bedrooms filled with faux butterflies your daughter will love, successful interior designer Wanda N. Colón has helped make TLC's Home Made Simple a delightful hit.

To this end,
Colón credits the combination of working in the theatre to further develop her talent as an actor and a designer. And at one point, this found her studying abroad at Oxford as an actress in such prestigious works including Pygmalion and Sense and Sensibility for a year. Likewise, in her biography, she cites the unlikely usage of acting skills while working in a fall-back career as a bank manager since she confessed she was never that gifted at math.

And while devotees of TLC and Colón's celebrity client roster of Cher and Kelsey Grammer are already highly familiar with Colón's skills to turn ordinary rooms into extraordinary spaces, you may be surprised to discover the side of the woman that's on display in Salt.

Colón sheds the design maven image just moments into this strikingly atmospheric short film from director Keith Parmer which will be screening as an Official Selection from August 5-8, 2009 at at the West Hollywood Film Festival.

Starring and produced by Colón and based upon a story she'd developed with Parmer-- the seventeen minute lushly photographed short from veteran cameraman and cinematographer Jon Myers and chopped by writer/director/editor Parmer-- begins with the sight and sound of a Spanish guitar.

Darkly lit-- like a noir version of a stage play at first-- Salt is seemingly set in one of those claustrophobic homes high in the Hollywood Hills. They're the type of places movie lovers know well and you get an instant sense of space within seconds. Essentially, the lavish home in Salt feels like a museum where self-satisfied Diego Alvarez (Byron Quiros) keeps his possessions in check including his beautiful wife (Colón) whom he scolds for sitting outside in the cold, having just sliced up a storm preparing his dinner.

The type of smooth operator who would prefer that his friends assume he's Italian rather than Latino--Diego is a man whom Colón's Dani accuses of still being at the beck-and-call of his mother. Of course, this is before they get into a mini-Shakespearean tinged Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? blowout minus the stink of too much booze and the word "swampy"-- shortly after dinner.

For, within moments of his arrival, Diego makes two mistakes that send Dani reeling when he first pays far more attention to what she perceives to be the arrival of a phallic painting (that matches her dress) and secondly when he liberally seasons her food with salt without having tasted a bite.

While the film seems to both pull us in and push us away at the site of two gorgeous people who are equally repulsed and romantically enraptured by the sound of their escalating disagreement-- as a short, Salt brilliantly knows when to switch things up. And soon enough, we change time and place in a way that gives us the necessary clues we need to fully understand everything that came before it in the short.

Moreover, wisely the short operates on the basic understanding that spectators are always helpless when watching couples battle it out since there are levels to an argument that we can't possibly understand as strangers. Overall, Salt is a dark short with an unexpected surprise in its recipe and likewise it's one you may want to screen again a second time just to try to sift through it once more to try to break down all of the ingredients since it would be impolite and possibly dangerous to ask the cook.

Far more than a design maven-- there's nothing Made Simple about Parmer's award-winning film conceived by the director and Colón-- whether it's seventeen minutes or seventy.

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