The latest output from filmmaker Nathan Silver (Stinking Heaven, Actor Martinez) is a neon-lit, psychosexual thriller about an American flight attendant named Gina (Lindsay Burdge) who, following a recent tragedy, inserts herself in the life of a Parisian man named Jerome (Damien Bonnard), eventually becoming obsessive to the point of extreme consequences. On the exterior, viewers are provided with a classic downward spiral of a character arc but, upon closer investigation, Thirst Street is more so a genuine examination of the places that the mind takes the body when attempting to deal with post-traumatic stress.
Each year, at least a few films tackle the subject matter of post-traumatic stress disorder, and usually only one or two successfully dive deep enough into the human mind to justify the strange and erratic behavior of their trauma-inflicted protagonists and antiheroes. Gina’s decision making abilities will indeed be placed under scrutiny by viewers throughout the experience of watching her falter over and over, until she is completely consumed by her delusions. But what Silver and his cast and crew are attempting to explore here, and what the heart of the film is really about is shedding light on the obscure and difficult places that our psyches can take us to when consumed by this sort of stress.
It’s less important to attempt to figure out why Gina is torturing herself by becoming consumed by a near stranger and burning bridges with all of her previous friends & relationships, and more important to simply place oneself in Gina’s shoes and, experientially, undergo the aftershocks of trauma alongside her until a place of sympathy is reached. And that’s exactly what Silver and his team have done so well in the process of producing this film.
They have exposed Gina to her audience both physically and psychologically — through a variety of techniques including an unreliable, third person narrator (Anjelica Huston) — to the point of almost fracturing viewers’ psyches as well. This brings the film to an entirely new level of success because once the audience feels preoccupied by the same mental struggles as the protagonist, it’s no longer a matter of sympathy but a matter of empathy. Viewers can feel exactly what Gina feels as she becomes more and more isolated, more and more tangled in her own web of distrust & misconceptions.
Gina’s retreat to France and gradual psychological dissipation is captured brilliantly by the effectively discomforting audiovisual juxtaposition of Sean Price Williams’ cinematography and Paul Grimstad’s eerie score. Fallacy and illusion take reality’s place and Gina’s attempts at constructing perfection from fantasy only bring her deeper into a world no longer on the verge of falling to pieces, but already broken, and trying to repair itself in all of the wrong ways. In the end, Thirst Street is a tragedy more than anything; it’s Silver’s and co.’s investigation of the human brain’s inability to cope with the chaos and loss that comes naturally with life. [A-]