The rusting relic of a failed 1950s development scheme, the Salton Sea is a barren California landscape often seen as a symbol of the failed American Dream. First-time director Alma Har'el visits this poetically fruitful terrain and finds there a motley cast, including a bipolar seven-year-old, a lovelorn high school football star, and an octogenarian poet-prophet. Together they make up a triptych of manhood in its decisive moments, populating the Salton Sea's land of thwarted opportunity.
True to her roots as a photographer, video artist, and music video director, Har'el crafts an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film—a dreamlike poem that sets the personal stories of these distinctive yet familiar characters to a stylized amalgam of observational documentary and choreographed dance, with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan, all cast against the atmospheric scenery of the titular ghost town. The result is a moving and extraordinary documentary experience—an evocative, symbolic portrait of those who live in cultural obscurity.
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