Imagine if the whimsical French film Amelie got dirty. And that Amelie’s love interest had pink eye, tended bar at a strip club and only liked her for her blowjobs. That’s Nathan Silver’s art-house comic drama Thirst Street. Anjelica Huston narrates this bizarre storybook tale about an American flight attendant, Gina (Lindsay Burdge), who falls for a deadbeat Frenchman, Jerome (Damien Bonnard), while on a layover.
Normally, I’m eager for a story about a woman humiliating herself for love, but the tone of this fanciful film at times struck me as all wrong. Huston’s voice-over is adorably twee, reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s films, where narrators seem to be reading from a leather-bound book over twinkly, jangly music. That doesn’t quite jibe with Gina’s growing obsession with Jerome. Huston’s role is even more off-putting because there seems no real narrative need for it, other than explaining an already not very complicated story — though I can’t blame a director for wanting to get Huston involved, even if it was the case that they couldn’t get her for shoot dates but could possibly score 30 minutes in a sound booth.
Through some unconventional camera angles and placements that work to his advantage, Silver finds better footing. His close-ups on characters’ eyes are particularly effective, suggestive of a developing paranoia. Often, gels wash entire scenes with pinks and blues for a kind of dizzying surreality. What’s less interesting, though, are the many nondescript white rooms we see that are distractingly commonplace for such a strange story.
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Burdge is legitimately a little scary as Gina, while riding that line of being adorable and naive. Bonnard bumbles his way into a few solid laughs as Gina constantly butts into his life, and Jerome is too much of an ambivalent dud to tell her no, even when he’s in bed with his girlfriend and Gina bursts into the bedroom to “look for an earring.” But overall, the film is a bit lifeless and never quite takes off with a real destination.