Saltwater

Saltwater cover artSaltwater (2012)

Life is a series of choices, and the ones we make will either lead us to happiness or not.  We have to first want to be happy though, and that might be what this film struggles with.

My synopsis: Will is home from the military and staying with his old friend Rich.  Before he’s even unpacked Rich is setting him up on a date with Josh.  That lunch date is a contender for the most awkward and short lived date ever.  After much bad timing at many parties, they seem to surrender to the idea that it will never happen.  But life is a series of choices, and they have more to make.

One of themes in this film starts right at the beginning set up by the voiceover of Will who talks about happiness and whether it is fate or choice.  Will wants to be happy, and so does everyone, right?   One of the messages here is that you have to choose to be happy, and make choices that will lead you in that direction.  No one can make you happy on their own – you have to play a part.  Josh even says, “you have to meet me halfway.”

The problem is that Will almost finds happiness right away, but keeps getting thwarted by bad timing and/or bad choices.  For instance, hanging on a kiss under mistletoe as a reason to be very upset with someone..  At one point I wrote in my notes that a fly buzzing by could stop this romance from ever starting.  They stare longingly at each other while they bring dates to parties where they will see each other.  They play games with each other and their dates, and this detracts from the message as they seem disingenuous.

I have to wonder what backstory there is to the characters that might flesh out some of their awkward behavior/choices.  We have some hints such as they sensitive subject of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the fact that Will is freshly out of the service after 14 years.  I almost wish a party scene would have been deleted to instead tell us more about these people.

The tragedy in this film is what changes the tide.  The dialogue afterwards made me think of my own losses, and I could relate to what they were saying.  I give the film credit for dealing with this in an honest and emotional way.

Although I liked the message of the film, I had difficulty with the story.  It would flow one minute and then not the next.  Why if these two were so into each other did they push each other apart with such vigor?  Did they never see each other except at parties?  An example is when they are at Thanksgiving and they’re obviously making eyes at each other over Will’s date.  Then the next party a month later they seem like they might hook up, but Will gets upset over a simple kiss. It felt forced.  One moment they are on a romantic trajectory and the next they are arguing about who knows what.

Christine
Christine

One of the best parts of the movie is the character Christine who delivers the funny.  She has some good lines that are well delivered.  One of the best involves a harness and where you put your beans.

I applaud Kerr for the effort to make the film diverse in terms of character age, type, etc.  It’s always refreshing to see characters that aren’t Hollywood picture perfect.

from what I’ve read the film had a very small budget and timeframe, so I can give credit for even making a film that looks this good on a shoestring.  Music was overall good and made sense.  That said, scene transitions stood out to me as noticeable which was odd.  There also seemed to be some misplaced smiling in scenes that made it seem awkward.

This film has two sides to me.  One is the good choice in message – one that many of us can benefit from.  Too often we see ourselves as victims of our own lives, and sometimes we have to make choices that counter that.  This resonates with me.  The other side is the story/dialogue that while not bad felt like it could have been more.

Trailer on YouTube

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Availability:
Amazon: Streaming (free with Prime) and DVD
TLA: Streaming and DVD

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