Monday, May 17, 2021

Galveston

 

Directed by Melanie Laurent and written by Nic Pizzolatto that is based on his novel, Galveston is the story of a dying hitman who goes to the Texan town following a failed hit on his life as he accompanies a young woman whom his boss had kidnapped. The film is a thriller set in the late 1980s that plays into a man who knows he has little time left to live as he tries to help a young woman who finds herself in a really dark world. Starring Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Lili Reinhart, Adepero Oduye, Robert Aramayo, Maria Valverde, CK McFarland, and Beau Bridges. Galveston is a riveting and somber film from Melanie Laurent.

Set in 1988 in Texas, the film revolves around a hitman dealing with terminal lung cancer as he survives a failed hit where he finds a young prostitute as they go into hiding with the prostitute’s young sister as they figure out what to do next. It’s a film that plays into a man who is dealing with not just impending death but also the fact that someone tried to kill him while befriending this young prostitute. The film’s screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto, with additional work from Melanie Laurent, is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it is more of a study of this man who is dealing with death and is trying to protect this young woman he found during this attempt on his life from his boss who had kidnapped the young woman into prostitution. They hide out in Galveston while they make a stop at small town in Texas where the prostitute Rocky (Elle Fanning) retrieves her 3 1/2-year old sister Tiffany (Anniston and Tinsley Price) where the hitman Roy Cady (Ben Foster) would later learn whom Rocky had shot. Roy wouldn’t just deal from the fact that he’s somewhat involved in a shooting but he also has his own troubles not just with his lung cancer diagnosis but also his boss back in New Orleans who wants him dead.

Laurent’s direction does bear some style in the compositions yet much of her approach is straightforward in terms of the suspense and drama. Shot largely on location in areas near and around Savannah, Georgia with some shots at Galveston, Texas, Laurent plays into this world of rural Texas with some of its beaches and suburbia landscapes while also grounding it with locations that aren’t pretty. There are wide shots in some of the locations that include shots of clouds to play into this emergence of an upcoming thunderstorm as it adds to the dreary tone of the film. Still, Laurent does find way to bring some hope for scenes at the beach with Rocky and Tiffany as well as a scene in the third act of Rocky and Roy having a bit of fun.

Laurent would use close-ups and medium shots for those moments as well as some shots that play into the drama including some suspenseful moments that includes a climax where Laurent uses a tracking shot that goes on for a few minutes. Laurent also play into this air of intrigue as well as it play into Rocky and her relationship with Tiffany as Roy would have some discoveries but also deal with his own criminal ties as he’s become burned out to the point that he would threaten his own boss as a showdown would occur but with an aftermath that takes place 20 years later. Overall, Laurent crafts an evocative yet chilling film about a dying hitman trying to help a young prostitute and her young sister.

Cinematographer Arnaud Potier does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key lights for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as natural lighting for many of the scenes in the daytime. Editor Joseph Krings does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts for dramatic effect. Production designer Lisa Myers and set decorator Teresa Strebler do fantastic work with the look of the motel that Roy, Rocky, and Tiffany live in as well as a factory that Roy works at. Costume designer Lynette Meyer does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual that include some of the fashionable yet skimpy dresses that Rocky wears.

Special makeup effects artist Jamie Kelman does amazing work with the look of Roy late in the film as he deals with his health and the beatings he’s taken from other criminals. Visual effects supervisor Lucien Harriot does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it is mainly set dressing. Sound designer Roland Vajs does superb work with the film’s sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations as well as in some of the intense moments involving the film’s violence. The film’s music by Marc Chouarain and Eugene Jacobson is wonderful for its low-key orchestral score with soothing strings, electronic textures, and hollow percussions while music supervisor Marissa Gallien provides a soundtrack that largely consists of country and blues with bits of heavy metal and a song from Big Star in Thirteen.

The casting by Kerry Barden, Tracy Kilpatrick, and Paul Schnee is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from CK McFarland as a motel owner who is suspicious towards Roy and Rocky, Robert Aramayo as a low-level criminal who lives at the Galveston motel who tries to get Roy involved in a scheme, Adepero Oduye as a former flame of Roy in Loraine whom Roy hadn’t seen in more than a decade, Maria Valverde as a hooker friend of Roy in Carmen who is one of the few that Roy can trust, and Beau Bridges in a terrific small role as Roy’s boss Stan Pitco who tries to set Roy up. The performances of Anniston and Tinsley Price as the young Tiffany are a joy to watch with Lili Reinhart in a fantastic small appearance as the older Tiffany who appears towards the end of the film.

Finally, there’s the duo of Ben Foster and Elle Fanning in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Roy Cady and Rocky. Fanning provides that air of naivet√© as a young prostitute with little direction in her life as she is trying to do what she can for Tiffany while also trying to steer away from the world of prostitution despite her need for money. Foster’s performance is reserved in the anguish he carries as a man that is dying from terminal lung cancer while also dealing with the fact that someone tried to have him killed as he deals with impending death but also what to do with the remaining days of his life. Foster and Fanning together are a joy to watch as they display that air of uncertainty but also the fact that they’re two lonely people dealing with the cards they’ve been given.

Galveston is a remarkable film from Melanie Laurent that features great performances from Ben Foster and Elle Fanning. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, a compelling yet intense screenplay from Laurent and Nic Pizzolatto, and a somber music score. The film is a fascinating look into two people who both encountered dark situations as they deal with uncertainty as well as to try find hope in a hopeless world. In the end, Galveston is a marvelous film from Melanie Laurent.

Melanie Laurent Films: (The Adopted) – Respire - (Tomorrow (2015 film)) – (Plonger) – (The Nightingale (2022 film)) – (The Mad Woman’s Ball)

© thevoid99 2021

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Wow! That Melanie Laurent is so multi-talented! I'm curious about this one now, and I think Ben Foster is a bit underrated. Great review, Steven.