By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ***** out of *****.
Stylishly and strikingly directed by Gabrielle Rosson, “Salvation” (2020) brilliantly captures the look and feel of its summer of 1957 setting. Based an original script entitled “Fink” by actor Kris Salvi, the twelve-minute short film never wavers as a masterclass in elegant Martin Scorsese-like mood. Briskly paced and fluently entertaining, the project benefits from the natural on-screen chemistry, likability, and overall marvelous performances from leads Justin Thibault (as Santo) and Salvi (as Salvatore). Further benefitted by often cryptic dialogue, especially in the masterfully done diner sequences which take up the bulk of the effort, Thibault and Salvi command every bit they are in together.
The plot revolves around the consequences of a grim past affecting the present state of long-time friends Salvatore and Santo. Rosson’s rich screenplay takes what could have been a relatively straightforward narrative and gives it intimacy, depth, and complexity. The endeavor never loses its eye on the central figures. Best of all, it smartly develops Salvatore and Santo in a largely banter-driven manner. It is one which is, like the entirety of the attempt, both slick and engaging.
What also helps the work become so magnificent and robust is the colorful, eye-popping cinematography by Manx Magyar. Additionally, Ian Rashkin’s music is superb. It suits the smooth attitude of the exercise terrifically well. Michael Hansen and Rosson’s editing is pitch perfect. The same can be said of Kimmi Monteiro’s set decoration. The fleeting turns from Paul Kandarian as Ciro and Sarah Morse as Bambi are just as effective. The opening, especially the early black and white portion which perfectly reflects the decade appropriate flair of the narrative, and concluding credits are visually remarkable bookends to the undertaking. What is just as noteworthy is the climax of the venture. It is beautiful and violent in equal measure.
In turn, “Salvation” is classy, sophisticated, and brooding. It is a bullseye of talent in front of and behind the camera. Like Rosson’s previous brief picture, “Being Kris Salvi” (2020), it stands as one of the greatest narratives of its type of the year. Similarly, it continues to establish Rosson as a fantastic moviemaker with a firm grasp of the medium. “Salvation” is highly recommended viewing.