Salt and Fire

Werner Herzog reunites with Michael Shannon for a fitfully amusing but largely stilted eco-thriller

Film Review by Michelle Devereaux | 19 Feb 2017
  • Salt and Fire
Film title: Salt and Fire
Director: Werner Herzog
Starring: Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres, Gael García Bernal

Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog’s latest fiction effort is this curious, fitfully amusing but largely stilted film that pretends to be an eco-thriller but feels more like an excuse to make dramatic use of the visually stunning Bolivian salt flats, where much of it is shot.

Herzog reunites with his former leading man Michael Shannon (My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done), who plays repentant CEO Matt Riley, responsible for the impending environmental disaster of “Diablo Blanco.” According to research scientist Laura Somerfeld (Veronica Ferres), whom Riley kidnaps, the barren salt flats his company inadvertently created could eventually engulf the entire earth. (In a stroke of Herzogian overkill, there is a volcano threatening to blow that will also have the power to destroy the world.)

Shannon is a natural fit for such strange material; Riley is a morose, philosophical weirdo with a penchant for lines like “Truth is the only daughter of time” and “Having children invites tragedy.” His character is also a fan of forced perspective, which leads to the film’s funniest moment, a jaw-droppingly silly denouement that threatens to render any lingering dramatic effect null and void. If only the entirety of Salt and Fire were as inspired.

Salt and Fire screened at Glasgow Film Festival

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