SXSW Film Festival ’18: Elle Fanning and Ben Foster shine in ‘Galveston’, despite some minor flaws

This review is by our guest writer, Christina Huang. 

Being from Texas myself, ‘Galveston’ is a film that I have been anticipating for awhile now. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Mélanie Laurent brings the small beach town that I have known for years to life in a beautiful way. Elle Fanning and Ben Foster are quite the duo, and the score is simply marvelous. Even though I was relatively satisfied with the quality of this film, I must say that the first twenty minutes or so were somewhat weak in terms of storytelling. Despite this, ‘Galveston’ is a solid crime thriller that is not to be missed.

The film centers around Roy Cady (Ben Foster), a hitman living in New Orleans who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. But before the cancer can get to Roy, his boss tries to have him killed and he is forced to flee Louisiana. Before he leaves town, he rescues Raquel Arceneaux (Elle Fanning), a prostitute. The two pick up Raquel’s little sister, Tiffany, and head off to Galveston. As the movie goes on, we learn that both Roy and Raquel are far from innocent people. Despite their past actions, both of them do everything they can to ensure that Tiffany has a good childhood and that she will not make the same mistakes as they have. (Although I do not want to spoil the film for those who have not seen it yet, Tiffany does end up leading a fuller life than Roy and Raquel.)
Foster and Fanning’s performances are just superb. Elle Fanning is an absolute powerful. She portrays Racquel in a very innocent and almost playful manner, but also with a sense of grief and defeat. Racquel’s sweetness compliments Roy’s bleakness almost perfectly. Ben Foster depicts Roy as a lonely, depressed, and aimless man. Raquel brings out the good in him and gives Roy a purpose.

Mélanie Laurent’s direction and Marc Chouarain’s score are both phenomenal. Laurent’s ability to evoke feelings of nostalgia and sadness with the simplest of scenes is truly amazing. One such scene juxtaposes Roy walking on the docks in a hurricane with Raquel strolling along the beach on a sunny day. Roy’s part represents the darkness and suffering of today, while Raquel represents the innocence and happiness of days gone by. Chouarain’s score, filled with melodic piano pieces, adds a special touch of magic to many scenes. Even though the movie is quite dark, the sounds of a piano is somewhat calming, once again evoking a sense of the happier days of the past.

With the remarkable directing, fantastic store, and excellent performances, ‘Galveston’ is a film that is worth watching. Although there are issues with the flow and structure of the story, overall it is a satisfying film. It is another solid piece from Mélanie Laurent, and is filled with consistently favorable performances from Elle Fanning and Ben Foster. Set on the Texas coastline, ‘Galveston’ is a dark, gritty, and bittersweet story about the sacrifices we make for our future generations.

Christina Huang is a guest writer for Much Ado About Cinema. You can find her on twitter here. If you would like to contribute your own essay or review to the site, please email, or use the contact form provided. For the rest of Christina’s SXSW coverage, click here.


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