Ben Foster, Elle Fanning
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…a tightly constructed, albeit derivative crime-drama that struggles to create an identity for itself.
Where the likes of You Were Never Really Here and Taxi Driver were able to create a compelling introspective of characters whose mounting agony provoked excessive violence, 2018’s Galveston stands amongst the fold as a tightly constructed, albeit derivative crime-drama that struggles to create an identity for itself.
Galveston stars Ben Foster as Roy, a hitman diagnosed with a life-threatening illness who – following a botched sting – escapes to his hometown of Galveston, Texas while accompanied by two young sisters; 19-year-old Rocky (Elle Fanning) and 3-year-old Tiffany.
The trio base themselves in a motel and from here Galveston stands as a testament to violence and abuse, which parallels back and forth with Roy struggling with his dwindling mortality. Where Roy looks to calm his frustrations through alcohol and isolation, it is Rocky who, despite a 20-year age gap and only knowing abuse in her life, seeks to connect to Roy.
Ben Foster is undoubtedly one of the best actors working in Hollywood today, and in Galveston he delivers with just as much intense fragility as he does extreme aggression. By no means is Roy a well-reasoned person, with the narrative opting to diffuse rage-filled situations that threaten to separate Roy and Rocky by conveniently invoking Roys’ illness as if to quickly forget his threatening behaviour.
The mood is established early on, with cinematography (handled by Dagmar Weaver-Madsen) working to develop the inner turmoil felt by the characters while also showing a confined-dirtiness which makes scenes of basking in the warmth of a beach joyous for both the characters and audience.
Director Mélanie Laurent, best known for playing Shosanna in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, is interested in not only the main characters’ struggle with abuse but that of the wider public. Though heavily inspired by other films that have since made the ultra-violent drama narrative something of a parlour trick, Galveston remains a well-acted assessment on abuse led trauma.