'Thirst Street' star holds our attention as a single weird female

Friday, 01 December 2017, 12:36:13 PM. ROEPER: The troubled heroine of this low-budget melodrama acts more like a stalker than a romantic leading lady.

When we hear the cool, calm voice of the narrator, informing us of a tragic recent event and some key insights into the life of an American flight attendant, we think perhaps “Thirst Street” is going to be a sly, dark, deadpan romantic comedy about a troubled but certainly sympathetic woman.

Oh, but that narrator (voiced by the great Anjelica Huston) is actually preparing us for something quite different.

Shot on a very tight budget with much creativity by director Nathan Silver, “Thirst Street” is a strange and sometimes chilling and lurid little gem with a soundtrack straight out of a 1970s or 1980s erotic B-movie thriller, and a wonderfully twisted lead performance by Lindsay Burdge as the Gina, a damaged soul whose quest for love blinds her to reality and sets her on a path toward self-destruction.

So no, it’s not a sly, dark, romantic deadpan comedy after all. It’s dark all right — but it looks more like a train than a light at the end of the tunnel.

Still reeling from the suicide death of her lover, Gina returns to work as a flight attendant on international routes. In Paris, she and a few friends head to a jazz club, only to learn it’s more about the stripping than the music.

Gina falls under the spell of a sexy but sleazy bartender named Jerome (Damian Bonnard), and the sparks fly.

But what Jerome took to be the start of a casual romance is something else in Gina’s eyes. She believes they’re destined to be together — even after Jerome makes it clear he doesn’t respect her and Jerome’s on-and-off girlfriend arrives on the scene and tells Jerome he has to shake off this crazy person.

So what does Gina do? She relocates to Paris, takes an apartment across the street from Jerome and takes a job in the club!

Note to Gina: you might be overplaying your hand.

Director Silver delivers a visually arresting melodrama with some stunning dramatic turns, and Lindsay Burdge is nothing sort of sensational as the sad and lost and potentially dangerous Gina. Her stalker ways make it impossible for us to like her, but we most certainly feel for her.

★★★

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a film directed by Nathan Silver and written by Silver and C. Mason Wells. No MPAA rating. Running time: 83 minutes. Opens Friday at Facets Cinematheque.

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