In many ways perversely enjoyable, Thirst Street is a fistful of candy-colored cringe for the voyeur in us all. Its premise is almost fail-proof: Gina, an American flight attendant, falls for a French womanizer and is deluded into thinking it’s a grand new romance, shortly after her husband commits suicide due to his own delusions. By the time she makes plans to move to Paris and rents an apartment across the street from the ambivalent Jerome, there’s no hope left that this is going to be merely a painful jolt on the way to recovery.
Lindsay Burdge’s performance as Gina is fantastically fragile, all brittle-pleading smiles and desperate, barely-holding-together stares. The photography is a lovely wobble between seedy neon and dreamy technicolor. And there’s something cruelly satisfying about watching Gina descend into dangerously deeper fixation on someone we know is going to crush her. Delightfully icky moments such as Gina singing Rolling Stones’ “Time” to Jerome during nightclub karaoke take cues from tear-jerkers and rom-coms, distorting them into pathetic displays.
But it ends up feeling like a sleazy exercise. Despite what’s possibly an attempt to frame the ordeal from Gina’s disconnected point of view, there’s never an opportunity to sympathize with her. At one point, she admits to new Parisian friend Charlie that she’s been a flight attendant since age 18 and doesn’t know how to do anything else, but this bit of insight is overrun with scenes belaboring the point that she’s obnoxious. She’s as annoying in her attempts to socialize at parties, constantly beaming her wired-smile pageantry, as she is in her creepy pursuit of Jerome. She’s nasty toward the one character who tries to connect with her. Her fawning over Jerome feels more like a portrait of the co-dependent woman trope than an exploration of what this behavior has to do with her individually or her personal trauma. There’s definitely more to Gina and women like her; it would’ve been interesting to see it present.