VIOLET | MOVIE REVIEW

VIOLET is screening as part of the WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL that is happening in Sydney from yesterday, November 17th to the 23rd at Dendy Opera Quays and in Canberra from 24th to 30th November at Dendy Canberra. The lineup is awesome and we have five reviews coming for you that started Sunday with our review of DOMESTIC then continued yesterday with our review of THE IRISH PUB . Suss their website, grab some tickets and see some amazing European films that will most likely not make the cinema circuit in Australia. VIOLET is made by Atom Films, has a festival exemption rating and runs for 82mins. All the best…..JK.

 

VIOLET MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
VIOLET | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | MOVIE POSTER

 

Jesse and his mate Jonas are hanging at the mall, you are viewing them on an old security monitor bank, they are laughing and just doing what teenagers do. Also on another monitor are two guys who look a little suspicious, their paths are crossing. Jesse is scared and steps backwards, Jonas confronts, Jonas is stabbed, Jonas dies and Jesse is frozen in shock and observes the entire thing. The rest of the movie is watching Jesse deal with his internalised coping methods.

And I truly do mean watch, there is incredibly limited dialogue in this movie and the majority of the story is told purely through the visual medium, it should be noted it handles the visuals incredibly well, I mean Oscar well, it is some of the best cinematography I have ever seen. It looks like a collaboration between Larry Clark, Gus Van Sant and photographer friend of mine Hugh Holland, who gained fame in the 70s with his skater photography, LOCALS ONLY. The ability of all three of these men to capture the beauty of youth and tell a tale via the visual is remarkable and Bas Devos, first time writer and director of VIOLET, just entered their league. This striking debut film, which won the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation 14plus Grand Prix is a photographic/ cinematographic essay of the internalisation of youth pain in crisis.

 

VIOLET MOVIE IMAGE
VIOLET | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | JESSE (CESAR DE SUTTER)

 

The technical aspects to achieve the stunning cinematography by Nicolas Karakatsanis (BULLHEAD, THE DROP and upcoming (CANNOT WAIT!!!!) CUB) were achieved by shooting in combination of 65mm and the Digital Alexa. The mood created by somber tones, slow to no movements and striking shallow depth of field shots make this movie. I could hang pretty much any frame from this movie onto my wall. Especially those featuring the lead Jesse (Cesar De Sutter), he is the epitome of the beauty of youth combined with an angelic look, a character that is sensitive and trying to make it in the world and the fact he is from acting blood, both of his parents are actors and this film could never have worked without his ability to emote through facial expressions. As he rarely talks, or the director has talking but to him it is irrelevant so you can’t even hear it, his facial looks or pure blank looks speak more than him having tantrums and smashing things. Watching him concentrate on a mundane bandage for an extended period showed Jesse trying to cope by focusing on something tangible, something simple.

This movie will not be for many people, it will be applauded by the art house cinema appreciators, it will be loathed by the commercial crowd and tabloid movie lovers will not be able to even comprehend its purpose.

My biggest gripe was that while the film is beyond stunning to view, nearly every scene was twice as long as it needed to be. The film was evocative and strong and had an underlying tension but I would have preferred some more dialogue and less long shots, looking into the corner of a room, or into a group of people from a distance for over thirty seconds started to wear on my patience a bit.

 

VIOLET MOVIE IMAGE
VIOLET | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | BIKERS AT A SKATE/ BIKE RAMP

 

There were even a couple of scenes I struggled with, one that made more sense at the end of the film. How would a teenager deal with this? How would he be supported by family and friends? People have differing opinions and thoughts on the matter, some will express them and some will internalise them. Jesse has limited help from his friends, they try to get things back to the norm, riding their BMX bikes and hanging out, but little things effect Jesse and set him off, his friends offer random thoughts that confuse and not help him. Being asked why Jonas died and not Jesse? Why Jesse was not hurt at all? Why did Jesse not help? Being called a coward, being shown photos of the crime scene by a young child and asked if there was lots of blood. Taking that on board and dealing with the shock is enough for anyone to deal with, add the fact it is a teenager, they are on another planet, they are a force unto their own and try and deal with everything themselves, help is weak. They never speak to their parents and are different people when with parents and when with friends.

How do parents deal with the issue? The scene that confused me until after the movie was the father asking if Jesse wanted a tea or a coffee, he got a one word response and then went to make the coffee, Jesse is standing in the lounge room and the father slams some things in the kitchen, walks out and kisses Jesse on the cheek. I just did not get it, after this we see two cups of coffee on a window ledge, then random long shots of things still in the house, then we see Jesse’s shoes on the floor. Originally I thought it was some psycho sexual thing where the dad was sleeping with him, but upon realisation it was showing the frustration that a parent cannot help in all things, they can just be there, as for the house, was it showing things go on with or without people and that the items just are tangible items in existence.

 

VIOLET MOVIE IMAGE
VIOLET | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | JESSE (CESAR DE SUTTER)

 

Jesse is numb to it all and like all of us grieving is different. By the end all I wanted to do was hug him and tell him everything would be alright, exactly what his parents wanted to do. But while the comfort of being with them would help temporarily the healing has to come from within, his healing scenes while riding with a second bike just broke my heart. I could not survive if one of teenage friends died in front of me back in the day. Nothing will ever be the same for Jesse, but no matter what happens to him, to Jonas, to anyone, the world keeps spinning.

The movie is a work of art, see if for Cesar De Sutter and the incredible cinematography but do not expect anything to move with pace.

 

4 Pops