[#SXSW 2018] Galveston Review: Tough to Watch at Times, but Moving

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Galveston is tough to watch at times, but with the compelling performances, slow burn pacing, and gut punch ending, it really delivers in the end.Galveston Movie Teaser poster

Summary: After escaping a set up, a dying hitman returns to his hometown of Galveston where he plans his revenge.

Galveston, directed by Mélanie Laurent, stars Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Lili Reinhart, and Beau Bridges.

The reality of the world is that there are times when a happy ending doesn't come. The good people lose and the bad people win. This is where the concept of conspiracy theories come in, because we need order in the world — even if it's evil order. There are a few moments in Galveston where it seems like things might be coming together for the protagonists, but some people are meant to be kicked when they are down. That is what makes this movie so compelling to watch. We're seeing people who feel very real have very visceral reactions to things.

A man (Ben Foster) gets up and runs away from a cancer diagnosis because he can't deal with the idea of dying like that. A young woman (Elle Fanning) wants better for herself but doesn't know how to go about doing that. These two people are fascinating to watch and keep the movie going along.

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Ben Foster as "Roy" and Elle Fanning as "Rocky" in GALVESTON | Credit: Courtesy of Low Spark Films

The performances from the two of these actors are really something to behold, with Fanning being the standout. Director Meanie Laurent said that Fanning was literally the only person she considered for this role — and it's one hell of a role. There are moments where she is so hysterical that she can barely speak. It's that kind of gut wrenching, gulping-for-air type of hysteria and sadness that comes from something so overwhelming that you cannot speak. We've all felt that kind of grief before, and it makes Fanning's character feel so real that you're left in awe.

Fanning has great backup from Foster, who plays a character far from a good person but is trying to make his last days mean something. He's violent and overbearing at times, but he comes to truly care for Fanning's character in a very natural way. It's not quite paternal, but it is a deep friendship. He wants to protect her from the harsh world despite knowing it's already far too late to do so.

This is the kind of slow burn mood piece that really appeals to some filmgoers, but for others, they probably aren't going to find it particularly exciting. It's a mood piece, a drama, and one that doesn't pull any punches. The biggest action-type scene comes from a one-track shot of someone trying to escape from a room. There are a few guns fired and blood on the walls, but the film mostly features moments of people just trying to better themselves. Laurent is a very talented director, and she really captures the essence of a small town on the seaside. As she says, she was a French woman trying to make a very American story, and it felt very honest. It's a slow burn; but that being said, it still felt like it was a little long.

Galveston is one of those gradual mood pieces that isn't going to be for everyone. For those that are willing to get on its level, though, it's a great watch from a fascinating female director — one that we can hope will continue to make movies.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at http://www.nerddomepodcast.com
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