Melanie Laurent is internationally renowned for portraying Shosanna Dreyfus in the Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds (2009). However, this multi-talented French creative has made her English language directorial debut with Galveston, a crime thriller set in 1980s New Orleans.

Ben Foster, who co-starred in the neo-Western Hell or High Water (2016), features as Roy, an alcoholic hit man diagnosed with terminal cancer. After being double-crossed by his boss Stan (Beau Bridges), Roy escapes to Galveston with a young prostitute named Rocky (Elle Fanning) and her three-year old sister Tiffany. In the tiny seaside town, Rocky wrangles with the trauma of her abusive childhood while Roy plots his revenge. Based on Nic Pizzolatto’s debut novel of the same name, Galveston ponders the need for reconciliation. Roy, faced with impending death, strives to keep Rocky and Tiffany safe despite Stan’s immense criminal ties and his own hardened ways. And Rocky, having spent her adolescence being sold to creepy men, struggles to separate from her philandering past.

Foster fronts the cast admirably, and he complements Roy’s brawny exterior with an undeniable softness. Meanwhile, Fanning establishes her standing as one of Hollywood’s most marketable actresses; she is alternately high on youthful possibility and numbed by the pain of self-disgust.The chemistry between Roy and Rocky similarly lends the plodding pace some anticipation. Though the energy is not entirely romantic, Laurent manages to engage viewers in their budding friendship, their mutual efforts to bring each other stability.

In another admirable feat, Laurent conjures up tension in the most unlikely of places. Whether it is a pharmaceutical drug dealer living in the motel room next door, or an unmarked van parked out the front of a roadside shanty bar, Roy and Rocky’s quest for salvation is constantly under attack.

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