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Salt Water

The latest Spanish immigration-themed pic, erstwhile docu helmer Pedro Perez-Rosado's "Salt Water" is a well-observed, well-intentioned item whose quiet virtues go a long way to compensating for its lack of flair. Pic's point that not only immigrants are condemned to $3-an-hour lives in the brave new Europe is well-made, but ultimately too familiar to make much of an impact, especially outside the borders of Spanish-speaking territories.

Cast:
With: Yoima Valdes, Leyre Berrocal, Juan Carlos Morales, Ofelia Medina, Candela Fernandez. (Spanish, Catalan dialogue)

The latest Spanish immigration-themed pic, erstwhile docu helmer Pedro Perez-Rosado’s “Salt Water” is a well-observed, well-intentioned item whose quiet virtues go a long way to compensating for its lack of flair. Pic’s point that not only immigrants are condemned to $3-an-hour lives in the brave new Europe is well-made, but ultimately too familiar to make much of an impact, especially outside the borders of Spanish-speaking territories.

Cuban Olga (Puerto Rican thesp Yoima Valdes) arrives on Spain’s east coast claiming to be on a scholarship, but actually destined for a local furniture factory run by an unnamed owner (Lola Molto) and her foreman Johnny (Juan Carlos Morales), who has an industrial-sized libido. Foul-tempered Mari Jo (Leyre Berrocal) also works there, earning a few extra bucks at night as a prostitute.

The harsh realities of immigrant life chip slowly away at Olga’s self-esteem, but the fire in her revives when she catches Mari Jo with Johnny in the warehouse.

Characters’ victimhoods — as workers, women and immigrants — are sledgehammered in without any let-up, and, although it may be realistic, it becomes monotonous .

Nonetheless, Valdes has a winning screen presence, andBerrocal increasingly wins sympathy for Mari Jo .

Helmer’s docu experience is revealed in the treatment here, with lensing mostly hand-held, but also in pic’s relentless, sometimes over-insistent, wish to get its message across — a message unrelieved by any humor. A gentle piano and guitar scoreunderscores mood to good effect. Pic features some Catalan dialogue.

Salt Water

Spain-Puerto Rico

Production: A Nirvana release (in Spain) of a Perez Rosado Producciones (Spain)/Trivision (Spain)/Viguie Films (Puerto Rico) production with the participation of TVC, RTVV. (International sales: Wanda Vision, Madrid.) Produced by Ximo Perez. Executive producer, John E. Viguie. Directed by Pedro Perez-Rosado. Screenplay, Lilian Rosado.

Crew: Camera (color), Miguel Llorens; editor, Vicente Ibanez, Rafa Montesinos; music, Carlos Varela; art director, Jero Bono; sound (Dolby Digital), Heriberto Rosas. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 21, 2005. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Yoima Valdes, Leyre Berrocal, Juan Carlos Morales, Ofelia Medina, Candela Fernandez. (Spanish, Catalan dialogue)

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