All Paths Lead to Salt: (2023) Review

Isaiah’s whispered advice echoes through the riverbanks, guiding Mack in the delicate art of fishing. In Raven Jackson’s mesmerizing debut, “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt,” the film unfolds like a nostalgic symphony, weaving through the stages of Mack’s life with the grace of a river’s current.

Isaiah (played by Chris Chalk) imparts wisdom as Mack (Kaylee Nicole Johnson) navigates the muddy waters of her youth. The film paints a vivid picture of a young girl, her hand caressing a catfish caught in a trap—a symbolic moment that will ripple through her life. Mack’s journey, portrayed with nuanced simplicity, captures the essence of growing up in the deep South.

The Art of Sensation: A Cinematic Feast

Beyond the Screen: Rediscovering the Beauty in the Everyday
Jackson masterfully employs a sensory palette to transport the audience into Mack’s world. Just as my grandfather sliced limes for us in front of his old TV, Jackson cuts scenes into bite-sized servings of life. The film’s close-ups mirror the tactile memories we hold dear—the wind fluttering ribbons in the girls’ hair, the touch of cloth diapers, and the patterns of grandma’s blankets. It’s a sensorial experience, reminiscent of a time when every detail felt new and fascinating.

“Slow. Take your time.” This advice extends beyond fishing; it becomes the heartbeat of the film’s gentle pacing. Memories merge like raindrops in a stream, and water emerges as a powerful motif linking past, present, and future. Through the lens of cinematographer Jomo Fray, every image becomes a canvas, painted with a bygone color scheme. From grief to a flirtatious look, each moment is immortalized as if it were a grand oil painting, rich with emotion.

Navigating Memory Lane: A Meandering Trip through the Heart

Visualizing the Intangible: Crafting Moments That Resonate
“All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” defies conventional storytelling, opting for a meandering exploration of memory. Jackson skillfully balances suggestive narrative details with innovative visualizations, emphasizing the subtleties of everyday life. The film captivates with intimate scenes—a mother’s tender bath, sisters holding onto each other in crisis—each frame a testament to the meticulous attention given to textures and emotions.

The layout of the film mirrors the unpredictability of memory, guided not by logic but by heartfelt authenticity. In the backdrop of Mississippi, Mack’s journey is a tapestry of emotions, inviting viewers to savor every painstaking detail. “Slow. Take your time,” whispers through the frames, reminding us of the inherent beauty in our daily lives.

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