An entertaining modern Western with the magnetic Mads Mikkelsen, Kristian Levring’s The Salvation is gorgeous to look at – but as hollow as a Ten-gallon hat.
Western By Numbers by Dave O’Flanagan
Kristian Levring’s Danish Western is as distinctive as it is outrageously clichéd. On one hand you have the vibrant and unique costume design, the beautifully stylised visuals, and the Mads Mikkelsen, in a Western – great. On the other, you have a slavish reverence to almost every cliché the genre has dished up since 1903’s The Great Train Robbery. In spite of the formulaic and often run-of-the-mill narrative, it’s an entertaining film once you accept that you’re not bearing witness to anything particularly fresh. Outside of Jens Schlosser’s glorious cinematography, Mads Mikkelsen is magnetic, cutting an intriguing and compelling figure at the film’s core. Schlosser’s varied palette of rust and gold lighting bathes Mikkelsen’s otherworldly features in a manner that makes him look every inch the icon of Danish cinema that he is. The rest of the International cast are largely wasted; Eva Green has nothing to do as mute Madelaine and although Jeffrey Dean Morgan looks and sounds like the ‘Big Bad’, wafer-thin characterisation renders him ineffective. Ultimately, The Salvation is an enjoyable film with Mikkelsen in the lead, it’s gorgeous to look at, but as hollow as a Ten-gallon hat.
The Salvation is showing on Oct 14th, 15th & 17th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival