Salto Maximilian von Moll

Salto Maximilian von Moll
For as long as there is civilization, some form of doomsday scenario will be concocted to predict the day it all comes crumbling down. Here we are in 2013 and the stream of stories constructed around apocalyptic events continues to flood forth.

Granted, many of these projects were started before nothing happened on December 21 but if the proliferation of guilty escapist destruction fantasies does begin to slow with a little distance from that most famous of end dates, it will only be temporary.

This is partly due to the unlikely abatement of our cultural guilt derived from the knowledge that the life support system of spaceship Earth is in a precarious position because of a widely held belief in divine right by an out of control group of industrious primates. It's also partly because a doomsday scenario is a sturdy metaphor to hang personal metamorphosis on. It's in this regard that Maximilian von Moll utilizes the subject.

Marion (Lydia Schamschula), a pragmatic television journalist, ends up going on an eye-opening journey to the site of a potential suicide cult preparing their exit strategy in Portugal in search of her missing girlfriend, Lucia. At the beginning of the faux-documentary, the lovers have a nasty verbal dust-up over the probability of some kind of end or rebirth actually occurring in a tangible way on the fast-approaching ominous Mayan calendar date.

The next day, Lucia (Sesede Terziyan) is gone and Marion enlists the help of her trusty cameraman to track her down. During the distraught reporter's investigation there's initially a lot of "to Google!" for research, which, while practical, isn't very interesting to watch. Once she begins interviewing people connected to the mysterious cult her girlfriend was studying, including a naïve past life regression therapist, the film begins to find its footing. Still, it's a bit of an uneven expedition.

Even as Marion travels deeper and deeper into the mouth of communal yearning masquerading as mystical hippie madness, Salto struggles with repetition; there are only so many times seeing a character frantically calling for her partner can positively contribute to the film's sense of tense uncertainty.

Far more fascinating than the raw mechanics of her search is the information she gleans from the various weak-willed sheep eager to be slaughtered in exchange for a sense of inclusion. Questioning the cultists and pilgrims she meets along her journey is the one part of the movie that makes the faux-documentary conceit worthwhile. Elsewhere, having a man with no other apparent uses freak out a bunch of secretive cultists with his camera while Marion is trying to earn their confidence is simply moronic.

If you're hoping it all ends in some Wicker Man-esque pagan horror or that Marion's journey amounts to more than a metaphor for her need to face her fears and embrace her identity as a gay woman, you'll be left wanting. Salto's handling of annihilation anxiety is too obvious to have the profound impact it's aiming to achieve but the desperate personalities Marion meets along her path of forced self-discovery keeps the adventure interesting. (Momentum Film)