Mélanie Laurent is a lovely Frenchwoman, who is remembered by many in the role of Shoshana from Tarantino’s film Inglorious Basterds. In the last few years, this multi-talented artist has dedicated herself to directing and writing screenplays. After three author’s films in French, not very noticed outside of France, the first work in English arrives – it is a difficult crime thriller, which will not leave you in too good a mood after watching it.
The film follows Roy Cady (Ben Foster), a man who does dirty work and suffers from lung cancer, but who has no intention of devoting himself to treatment. One evening, the head of the mafia sends him on a mission, but the job doesn’t end well for him – he runs away and takes the young prostitute Rocky (Elle Fanning), who was in the house, with him. By the way, the two of them buy her younger sister Tiffany and go to his hometown of Galveston, so that Roy can plan revenge.
In short, Galveston is a difficult story about two desperate and lost souls, whose lives were united by violence. While Roy’s violence is an integral part of his life and he lives from it, Roki, as we later find out, has been a victim practically all his life. The two of them don’t have much reason to move together and their relationship is kept on glass legs, but at the same time it is inevitable – no matter how different they are and no matter how random their meeting is, they stay together because they need each other.
The screenplay is based on the novel by Nick Picolat, the man who created the True Detective series, and he also wrote it, but under the pseudonym Jim Hemet. The film in its first part is a typical dark thriller, while in the second part it becomes a study of character. The story then begins to deal with despair and loneliness, more precisely how those feelings can unite people in an unexpected way. In this particular case, our heroes, by gaining affection, have become a kind of family and are currently trusting each other, even though they do not know each other. For the first time in a long time, maybe for the first time in their lives, the two of them feel free enough to talk about the past, the pain and the feeling that everything is hopeless.
The authors do not classify their relationship and leave it to us to determine their motives and feelings. Their connection is instant, but also very deep, almost existentially important. Only the two of them can understand that, but that understanding is also unclear to them. There is nothing romantic or sexual between them. Also, there is no hint that Rocky sees Roy as a father or stepfather, nor that Roy sees her as a daughter, although he never even knew that kind of relationship. It is easy to notice that Roy primarily wants to protect her and that he is more afraid that she is in danger than that he cares about himself. The script of the study of their characters near the very end returns to the thriller and rejects their relationship in a cruel way, which means that the traditional Hollywood happy ending will be absent.
As in the case of Leave No Trace, Ben Foster is the main reason I noticed this film at all and gave it a chance. Here he interprets a man who has not had much luck in life, who has been betrayed and broken both mentally and physically. He doesn’t talk much and has feelings, but he has no intention of expressing them or he just can’t. El Fanning represents a young woman who seems naive and childish, but it is obvious that years of suffering are behind her. Their performance is greatly emphasized by the director Melanie Lauren and the team in charge of cinematography – every frame of the film looks beautiful and convincing.