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Spotlight Cinema: Thirst Street

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)
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In the last few years, writer-director Nathan Silver has seen a strong representation in Madison, with films screening in the Micro-Wave Cinema Series and at the Wisconsin Film Festival (which hosted the North American premiere of his Stinking Heaven in 2015). MMoCA's Spotlight Cinema continues the local support with the regional premiere of Silver's new transcontinental psychosexual drama, Thirst Street. If Silver's prior efforts often paid homage to American indie trailblazer John Cassavetes, this film successfully experiments with tropes and moods of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's intense 1970s chamber dramas and "Eurosleaze"/erotica, much like Peter Strickland's hypnotic masterpiece Duke Of Burgundy (2014). However, rather than engaging in mere mimicry, Silver adds his own flavor with starkly literary narration from the eminent Anjelica Huston and takes a page from the rigorous character studies of his contemporary Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Queen Of Earth). With Huston's dry but poised assistance, the film initially details the precarious day-to-day life of flight attendant Gina (Lindsay Burdge), who is struggling with grief after her ex's suicide. She ends up in Paris and falls hard for a slick, mustachioed bartender named Jerome (Damien Bonnard). What he may have passed off as a short-lived fling is a potential romance to Gina in her heightened emotional state. She is soon suspending arrangements in the States to remain in the city of love to help grow their relationship. Of course, this rash plan goes awry once Jerome begins to get reacquainted with his punk singer ex-girlfriend Clémence (Esther Garrel). Silver handles the resulting love triangle and its chaos with many handheld close-ups and neon-lit night nightclub scenes that amplify Gina's descent into obsession and madness. —Grant Phipps