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The Salton Sea (2002)

Val Kilmer , Vincent D'Onofrio , D.J. Caruso  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Goldberg, Luis Guzmán, Doug Hutchison
  • Directors: D.J. Caruso
  • Writers: Tony Gayton
  • Producers: Butch Robinson, Eriq La Salle, Frank Darabont, Jim Behnke, Ken Aguado
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 10, 2002
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKM2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,945 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Salton Sea" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In the Imperial Valley of Southern California there is a little known body of water 226 feet below sea level, one of the lowest points in the United States. As there is no outlet from this sea, water is being removed only by evaporation, which results in a salinity level more than 25 percent higher than the Pacific Ocean. There is an eerie stillness to this vast sea, and a peculiar density to the water. This lake is the Salton Sea. Set against this remote and mysterious landscape, an unexpected and brutal crime leaves an innocent woman, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, dead at the hands of masked gunmen. Her husband's life is left in ruins, his every waking moment haunted by the recurring imagery of the murder he witnessed, but was powerless to prevent. "The Salton Sea" is a character-driven crime thriller about an unlikely hero entangled in a web of deceit and treachery. Full of unexpected twists and turns, this is a compelling and emotionally-charged story about loss and recovery set to the lonely resonant tones of jazz great Miles Davis' horn. Danny Parker (VAL KILMER) is a man in search of redemption, consumed by a sense of loneliness and alienation. Following the death of his wife (CHANDRA WEST), he is set adrift in a seedy underworld inhabited by an eclectic, and often comical, cast of characters united principally by their choice of drug: crystal methamphetamine. An accomplished jazz musician, Danny is now a low-life "tweaker" in Los Angeles who leads us through a frenzied maze, one from which he must emerge before his tenuous grip on reality snaps for good. In a bold attempt Danny secretly hatches a plan to serve as middle-man in a lucrative drug deal. With the help of his friend Jimmy "The Finn" (PETER SARSGAARD), Danny is introduced to Pooh-Bear (VINCENT D'ONOFRIO), a methamphetamine baron with a penchant for sadistic recreational games, who seals the deal. But in this mad world, nothing - most of all Danny - is what it seems.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Salton Sea August 6, 2002
By Susan
Amazon, you need a sixth star to do full justice to this edgy, innovative masterpiece of ensemble acting. That lead actor Val Kilmer can shine so brilliantly amidst the endless stream of first rate supporting actors proves he is not only an actor of supreme ability, but a catalyst who has brought about small miracles in the roles of, among others, Sarsgaard, Wong, D'Onofrio, Plummer, Unger, Guzman --well the list is long and simply mind-boggling. The film was released in only four or five major cities and dropped. How the producers of this film could have been so dense in promoting it is beyond my scope of understanding. No doubt Kilmer will once again be passed over at Oscar time (remember Tombstone? The Doors? How about Heat?) but if making good films is his real source of satisfaction, he should be very proud of this film. His acting depicts a range of human emotions in this film that will leave you breathless.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie. Often.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
This 2002 film is a rather weird and grotesque story set in the world of drugs. Val Kilmer is cast as a former trumpet player on a downward drug spiral. He's a middleman dealer, a police informant and a speed freak himself. The drug scenes are lurid and explicit. And the violence never stops. It's also a roller coaster ride for the audience, with a complicated plot that finally makes sense. There are also special effects and moments to make me cringe.
Vincent D'Onofrio is cast as a demented drug dealer who has lost his nose due to his habit. He's a sadist who boasts about torturing people who have tried to scam him and he puts Val Kilmer through some horrible moments. There's double crossing going on of course, and even triple crossing. This makes the plot rather interesting as our perception of our hero changes as the film moves along.
It's all a strange and unpleasant trip but I must give credit to fine performances and excellent and edgy directing. I enjoyed it but do stay away if you're squeamish in any way and don't want to be haunted by nightmarish images. Recommended only for the adventurous few.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Noble Heart and Black Humor November 21, 2003
Glad to see most of the reviews are favorable- "The Salton Sea" is one of my favorite movies. Why? The movie tells a special story in a unique way. Danny (AKA Tom) is on a personal mission that takes him into the squalidity of addiction and crime in LA. The story is unfolded in tangental vignettes, hyper-bizarre incidents and vivid flashbacks, and those of you with a keen eye for detail will recognize the logic of how and why the plotline is revealed this way. A lot of people will find some of the characters strange and over-the-top, and some of the incidents shocking, but that is the charm of the movie- never a dull moment.
My favorite aspects deal with the main themes of the movie: the value of true love, evil & hypocrisy, unlikely heroes and gutter saints. A Beautiful Film.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Breathtaking October 19, 2003
This is my favourite American film of all time. The imagery, acting, soundtrack, all were flawless. It's hard to describe what I found so appealing, you'd really have to see it.
Unlike many drug movies, you'd notice how nothing is glamourised, just strikingly honest. There are real consequences for everyone. The main character (Val Kilmer), although a "tweaker", elicits sympathy as he does what he feels right. Towards the end, I feel he did do what's right. I've never been involved with drug-dealing, but I imagine it would be at least similar to the movie. I'm gonna have to buy it. The DVD, not meth.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful, eloquent, surprising tale October 11, 2003
The best thing about "The Salton Sea" is that it isn't what one might expect. What starts out as yet another film detailing the aspects of a heavy drug user's life - something like "Blow" or "Trainspotting" or "Requiem for a Dream" - becomes quite something else by the end of the film. Mind you, I don't have any problem with these types of films, and the ones I just mentioned are all quite good in their own right. It bears pointing out, however, that "The Salton Sea" is not trying to be one of those movies, which goes to its credit.

And yet, drug use definitely forms a large aspect of the story of the film. In its depiction of drug use and drug users, it is remarkably balanced. It neither condemns nor glorifies it characters for their addiction, it simply portrays them honestly, as part of a larger story. Most films seem which involve a heavy dose of drug use in their story seem to feel the need to moralize on the subject at some point, but The Salton Sea avoided that particular pitfall.
Most likely this is because, as the filmmakers doubtless realized early on, it's not a movie about drug use. Though it has that feeling to it early on, the story slowly turns to the history of the main character, why he is in the situation he finds himself, and what he's doing now that he's there. Through a number of fairly surprising twists and turns, we learn that all is not as it seems, both for him and for those around him. The ending, when it comes, is one of the nicest surprises of the film, even as it is its most heart-wrenching moment.
Val Kilmer, who always seems to crop up in the oddest places, surprised me yet again with his lead role in this movie.
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