Violation : ‘TIFF’ Review – A Chilling, Powerful drama about female rage
I don’t buy into the rape-revenge drama as a genre. I feel it is a genre that is about a woman but isn’t feminist enough. Having said that, I actually enjoyed ‘Violation‘ for how cleverly it appoints its feminism with simplicity and treated it with touches of unprecedented filmmaking, adding up for a gritty, unnerving piece of cinema that is hard not to buy into. The premise is thin and simple: two couples who are close friends go for an outing into the wilds, where one of the two men sexually encounters the other wife without her consent. But this isn’t a film about how Miriam, the violated claims her vengeance – that’s just a few scenes of the film. It is about the syntax of this sexual exploitation. How it could be dangerously normalized and how anyone could be the predator. Director-writer duo Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer make a meal out of it.
The responsible and competent writing is gratifying because the scriptwriters understand that this film isn’t solely about seeking justice and revenge but also about a sense of brutality that could injure the person to a bitter extent. In that process, it also constructs a warm space for the dynamic of sisterhood between the film’s two female characters. It is beautifully humane and does an able job of world-building by fleshing out the limitations of a chamber-piece. A few passages are written so compellingly that they could essentially slip into poetic realms. However, when it shifts fearlessly into the darker entrances, it does so with consistent trenchancy. The story is about a journey of mutual coming-of-age: when a conscience harms the overall individual of your anatomy, that conscience has to end no matter what. While that’s a feeling difficult to draw out, this film manages to traverse it effortlessly.
Related to Violation: 8 : ‘FANTASIA’ REVIEW – CHILLING, TERRIFYING AND FLAWED FOLK HORROR
The filmmaking of ‘Violation‘ weaves an intimate and progressive tale with unhinged frigidities of a thriller. At a running length of almost two hours, the film is seldom tedious because the delivery is powerful. The cinematographer Adam Crosby makes some stylistic choices that feel somewhat inaccessible in a few instances but mostly create a drama that’s equal parts chilling and enchanting to look at. The terrific shots of wilderness and the way they have been connected with the pursuit to find a solution to the lack of consent have been captured with captivating audacity. The predatory viciousness of the rapist has been highlighted by the lingering shots of the wild animals. The inherently simple nods to sweetness and warmth stand with the relatable dialogue the characters share with each other.
The acting in the film ensures that it makes you feel. The most expressive of all the performances is Madeliene Fewer’s extraordinary leading turn as Miriam. As skilled she is as a director, she shows even more effective skills as an actress. The way she channels the instinctive sounds of Miriam made the character both injuring and personal for me. Jesse LaVercombe as Dylan – the predator, makes you feel even more empathy. His deft mastery of the character is a nuanced representation of the inorganic identity of the hunter, who can also be the hunted. Anna Maguire and Obi Abili deliver smooth and understated performances as the respective spouses.
‘Violation‘ is a detailed and rooted film but the lack of intricacy towards the start of the film is what hurts it. The film could have used a little more storytelling for a more stimulating hour. The dialogue is too cheesily done in places. Of course, the simplistic storyline terminates in monotony thirty minutes towards the end and I admit I got exhausted by the intensity of discomfort the film produced – a few scenes are startlingly harrowing; but despite the minor flaws, it is a moving portrayal of a woman’s ferocity and her pursuit for revenge. In that process, it gets under your skin and makes it crawl.