Melanie Laurent, the director (working from the book by Nic Pizzolatto, written before his success with True Detective), doesn’t maneuver through the story in the most delicate of fashions. She bumps against the wall several times by using contrived techniques to create story melodies, such as having Roy and Raquel have their happiest moment just before everything goes to hell. It doesn’t take a snarky film critic to see that one coming. No matter how convincing Foster and Fanning are, the characters always feel distant, like they’re behind a thick layer of glass. I haven’t read Pizzolatto’s novel, but this strikes me as a poor adaptation, as it focuses on capturing the broad story beats, rather than the spirit of the characters. That said, Laurent does pull off some visceral, punch-in-the-nose action sequences.
With characters that we watch but never know and some imitative storytelling, Galveston can’t help but feel like a compilation of cover songs, which, while listenable, are stilted and perfunctory. Even so, there’s enough stark photography, impassioned performances and uncompromising brutality to satiate viewers who like their movies well-done, unseasoned and served with a rusty knife.
Galveston (2018) Directed by Melanie Laurent. Written by Jim Hammett, Based on the Novel by Nic Pizzolatto. Starring Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Lili Reinhart, Adepero Oduye, Robert Aramayo, Maria Valverde, Beau Bridges. Galveston screened at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival.
6 out of 10