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The haunting grace note in director Suri Krishnamma's psychological thriller Dark Tourist, written by Frank John Hughes, comes from Melanie Griffith in an exquisite performance as a waitress grieving a crushing loss—and who has the misfortune of crossing paths with a man slowly unraveling into a psychopath. Jim (Michael Cudlitz, of TV's Southland) is a security guard whose hobby is studying serial killers, and who spends his vacations mapping his way through their killing fields. Tourist follows him as he navigates the small town that gave birth to one such figure. In voiceover he reveals an empathy with his current antihero that is slowly revealed to be rooted in his own childhood traumas. As the film softly nods toward the visuals of David Fincher, Hughes and Krishnamma gingerly roll out familiar interwoven themes and scenarios—child abuse, sexual trauma, church hypocrisy, a fierce madonna/whore complex, tortured male sexuality, encroaching madness, the whole checklist—and veer hard into cliché. Still, Cudlitz gives a haunted performance as a weathered, misogynistic, homophobic, blue-collar man roiling with demons, and Griffith can break your heart as a good woman staggering under the weight of life, especially after her character places her last bit of faith in a dangerously damaged man.Follow @VoiceFilmClub
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