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Thursday, April 18, 2019


(Ben Foster & Elle Fanning)

Fans of Nic Pizzolatto’s TV crime series, True Detective, will enjoy this film adaptation of his first novel. (Review by Patrick Compton - 8/10)

This is a brooding drama about an apparently dying hitman and an escort girl fleeing from the mob. It makes a considerable difference to the quality of this Gulf of Mexico road movie that the lead parts are played by Ben Foster and Elle Fanning, the increasingly high-focus sister of Dakota.

Foster plays Roy Cady, a hitman in New Orleans who barely escapes death from his double-dealing boss (Beau Bridges) who sets him up. Knowing he has to get out of New Orleans or die, Roy grabs a file of key documents before rescuing a similarly threatened escort-cum-prostitute, Rocky (Fanning).

The nuts and bolts of this southern noir will be fairly familiar to lovers of the genre, but the film’s French director, Melanie Laurent, isn’t afraid to slow down the pace and focus on character and atmosphere rather than clutter the film with too much plotting.

This decision pays deep dividends though it may not be to the liking of those with a short attention span and a desire for action at every turn.

Both Roy and Rocky are tortured souls. The former not only has intimacy and drink problems but believes he has inoperable lung cancer, while the latter – to put it mildly – has never had the chance to play happy families.

As they reach Texas, the increasingly tense relations between the two take a new turn as Rocky picks up her three-year-old sister from her abusive step-father. The trio then reach a low-rent motel near Galveston where the action slowly builds to a climax.
This is an often starkly presented drama with director of photography Arnaud Potier giving the action a classically noir feel, with the characters wreathed in shadow, an appropriate look for people who are so psychologically wounded.

The movie isn’t completely bleak, however, with Laurent intent on underlining the script’s redemptive qualities. For this, as for much else, she draws superb performances from her central characters who have tremendous chemistry.

The multi-talented Laurent (who is prominent in front of the camera as well in movies such as Inglourious Basterds) also makes a substantial contribution herself in this, her first English language film as a director. For a French outsider, it’s remarkable how she has managed to digest her material so successfully and produce a slow-burning, mesmerising and authentically American thriller.

Galveston is showing at Gateway Mall. – Patrick Compton