Salt City follows the misadventures of Kid (Brandin Fennessy) in search of his lost love, Vincenza (Clare Lopez). Kid, having just returned home to Syracuse, wanders the labyrinthine streets, longing for his former flame and meeting the strangest people the city has to offer. In this stream-of-consciousness narrative, Kid comes face-to-face with a conspiracy theorist, prostitutes, drug dealers, and even the devil himself. Will Kid finally set eyes on his beloved? It is a long road to find out.
Kid’s story throughout Salt City is difficult to dissect. On the surface, the film is simply Kid searching for Vincenza and asking virtually everyone he meets where he can find her. On another level, each new encounter seems almost like a random scenario generator that’s run through the lens of Kid’s love for Syracuse, anger at most of the world, and obsession over his former girlfriend. Chapters range from Kid warning people of the dangers of Dunkin’ Donuts to meeting his old drug dealer, Shaggy Rodgers (Issaiah Vergara), and a full five minutes of trading swear words with a hitchhiker. If that does not sound sporadic enough for you, there is also an entire section devoted to conspiracies about the sewage system. At one point, Kid literally goes to hell. Like I said, attempting to dissect the plot is nearly an exercise in futility.
“… Kid comes face-to-face with a conspiracy theorist, prostitutes, drug dealers, and even the devil…”
Writer-director James D. Froio displays a unique style throughout the film and, without a doubt, tells his unapologetic story. I respect Froio’s vision and his semi-gonzo moments where Kid takes to the streets in search of drugs, girls, and Vincenza. Despite respect for the director, Salt City is far from a flawless film.
There are many moments where Salt City seeks to find a balance between a Kevin Smith-esque day-in-the-life style and an absurdist, almost surrealist comedy but ultimately misses the mark. The film does not deliver enough laughs to be considered a true crude View Askew-esque comedy, and it lacks the versatile characters or sharp dialogue to be a compelling “hangout movie.” These narrative and tonal issues, paired with jarring transitions, make the overall movie feel very convoluted and often very out of touch with its characters.
I can appreciate a film being strange for the sake of being strange; I enjoy plenty of surrealist and Avant-Garde films, but even I have my limits. Salt City certainly goes for “it” without any apologies, but I’m not sure they quite reach the “it” they were looking for. Despite featuring a whole musical number with Satan and its ensemble of ridiculous characters, the film never feels like more than a jumble of scenes and stabs at humor. With seven billion people on the planet, I’m sure there is an audience for a movie like this somewhere; I’m just ignorant as to where to find such a viewer and who that could be.
"…...attempting to dissect the plot is nearly an exercise in futility. "