Violet & Daisy

2011, Movie, NR, 88 mins

Review

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Violet & Daisy is a cool movie. It’s strange and ambitious and affecting and extremely well-acted throughout a thoroughly esoteric script. Part coming-of-age drama, part grind-house thriller, part ridiculous postmodern fantasy, it can be easy to miss the subtle aspects of the film, given that the more obvious ones are so intentionally garish and absurd. For this reason, the movie is definitely what you would call “not for everyone,” but who would expect anything different from the screenwriter of Precious?

The story concerns two teenage assassins, the titular Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), who divide their time between ruthlessly smoking whomever they’ve been assigned to take out, and giggling over new dresses and talking about boys. Of course, in order for this to make sense, you have to keep in mind that the tale takes place in a brutal, violent, modern-fairy-tale world that’s both heartbreakingly earnest and cleverly self-aware. This isn’t reality -- it’s magical realism, if anything. The dialogue is stylized to make the girls sound like characters from an old-fashioned comic book or pulp novel, and they’re only able to be so exactingly hardened because they’re too young and innocent to truly understand what they’re doing. They’re street tough in the style of Huck Finn.

One day, when they’re supposed to be starting their vacation, they discover that their favorite pop star is releasing a new fashion line. Unable to afford the clothes on the meager wages that presumably explain why their boss employs kids, the girls agree to take on a last-minute job to earn the money. But when they show up at the home of their target -- a surprisingly genial man named Michael (James Gandolfini) -- he perplexes them by seeming quite unlike the usual thugs they’re sent to slaughter. And even more shocking, he’s not opposed to letting them complete their mission.

Of course, killing Michael is easier said than done, due to run-ins with competing gangs of hitmen, a few unplanned bloodbaths, and a lot more time than you might anticipate spent in the quiet confines of Michael’s apartment as the three leads talk about the expected topics: truth and obfuscation, time and experience, fathers and daughters. It can seem a little trite on the surface, but keep in mind the soundtrack, the expertly exaggerated dialogue, and the intimate nature of the whole narrative, and it just might occur to you that some of what you’re seeing is meant to be presented through the grandiose, unself-aware, hyper-urgent lens of teenage life. Again, all of that artful layering might not be for everybody, but for those whom it is, it’s definitely worth seeing. leave a comment --Cammila Collar

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