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Salmonberries Review

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A young woman searches for her roots in an Alaskan library. She is befriended by the librarian there and the two women skirt around each other on an almost love affair.

★★★★★

Not your most accessible film this one: the story of two women's almost-love affair in the snowy wastes of Alaska. k.d. lang, in her film debut, plays the bolshy, mannish, misunderstood Kotz who has come to the remote Alaskan wastes to search for her roots.

Zech plays Roswitha, the lonely local librarian who eventually befriends her. The two come to each other's mutual aid - Roswitha helps Kotz to find her father while Kotz takes the East German-born Roswitha on a trip to Europe to lay her ghosts to rest.

It's an exhaustingly slow-moving tale which makes for trying viewing: the plot is badly paced, the two frustrating central characters are unsympathetic and self-obsessed, the rest of the cast sketchy in the extreme. Lang can't act for toffee, and the Alaskan setting is so inhumanely wild and poor; hellishly small-town without small-town comforts, freezing, noisy, nosey, harsh... you're ecstatic when the heroines arrive in dirty Berlin, so sick are you of godawful Alaska.

Adlon boasts the brilliant Bagdad Cafe on his c.v. and Salmonberries itself won the Grand Prix at the 1991 Montreal Film Festival, but it's hard to see why. Maybe it's the theme-tune, a haunting love song by k.d. herself that stays with you long after the film itself has slid from memory. She would be advised not to give up the day job just yet.

Unsympathetic, trying tale. About as barren as Alaska itself.

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