3/22/2021

Violation (Review)


Writers/ Directors: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeline Sims- Fewer
Cast: Madeline Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LeVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo
Year: 2020
Min: 107

Miriam (co-writer/ co-director Madeline Sims-Fewer) and her hubby, Caleb (Obi Abili), are on the verge of a divorce. But, they go together to her sister, Greta's (Anna Maguire), house, after years of being apart. Greta's husband, Dylan (Jesse LeVercombe), is actually a long time friend of Miriam. That night, after Miriam falls asleep, Dylan rapes her. She tries to tell her Greta, but she doesn't believe her accusation of rape. Rather, she takes it as Miriam has willfully slept with her husband. Completely on her own and broken, Miriam takes revenge on Dylan for the vile act he committed on her.

Violation is a Canadian, rape/ revenge movie that mixes horror with drama. It marks the directorial debut of Madeline Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, who also wrote script together. In the past, they had already collaborated on several short films. This flick played at several film festivals last year. It will be making its wide release debut this Thursday, March 25, 2021, when it begins to stream exclusively on Shudder

This film is told in a non-linear manner, which helps to highlight the excellent editing by Rhiannon Cluff and Alex Lyon. And, from very start the movie has clearly a very somber feel to it. It also has beautiful cinematography by Adam Crosby. These include gorgeous shots of the woods and its wildlife. Among them are the allegorical images of a wolf eating a bunny. It is seriously one of the most gorgeous looking movies I have seen in recent memory. Mingling well with the aforementioned non-linear manner of the movie, as it adds to an overall artful beauty and soulful depth.

The rape, itself, is thankfully, never clearly shown, shot, instead, in an unfocused manner. And, yet it remains a scene that is utterly disturbing and uncomfortable. When something explicit does happen, it is absolutely shocking. The first and most jaw-dropping of these is Dylan's erect penis, as Miriam lures him to his comeuppance. I have never seen a real, honest-to-God hardon in a movie that isn't pornographic in nature. It adds a level of realism that has is honestly unequaled, to anything before it. Another potent example is the suffocation via plastic bag scene which feels very real. As a matter of fact once the revenge part starts the film becomes very intense and fervently uncompromising. 

As such, the film is emotionally crushing. It shows the way that Dylan, and men like him, will defend their disgusting actions against a woman to her very face! He is an all to real visualization of the worst of male toxicity. The script also shows the way even family can turn against against a victim such her and defend the assailant. And, it also serves as a psychological study showcasing the mental implications and moral weight of taking revenge has on one.

All of this is done in ways that aren't present in most, if any of its subgenre predecessors, including other feminist takes. It makes it feel removed from the more cheer on revenge of movies like I Spit on Your Grave or this movie's more comparable contemporary, the excellent Revenge, which was also directed by a woman. This isn't to say that it condemns her for taking out her fully deserved vengeance. Far from it, as it is clear that this rapist piece of shit, gets what is coming to him. What the film does is make you understand in a very real world sort of way, the long term implications doing this will take on Miriam. That it is that very realistic feeling that makes this film all the more disturbing on top of being deeply heart-wrenching.

It is all bought to life by Sims-Fewer, who does an absolutely flawless job as our protagonist, and remember she is also co-directing this flick! Her performance is heartbreaking. And, I felt it not only when she is onscreen, but long after the movie was over it still haunted me. The rest of the cast is top notch, as well, with Jesse LeVercombe making for a particularly repulsive and vile, villain. One that never like an over the top caricature but instead one that is completely believable and all the more uncomfortable for it. 

This all couples beautifully with the emotional score by Andrea Boccadoro. Right off the bat, I fell in love with the classical sounding music. I have to say that it is one of my favorite scores, I have heard in a genre film in quite some time. There is a haunting feel to it that is especially powerful, when taken in the context of everything that happens in this film. 

Violation is a searing and heart-wrenching take on the rape-revenge movie. Its grounded reality adds to its haunting and depressing feel. The directing duo of Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli present us with a truly beautifully shot, artistic flick. Their non-linear script is presented through some excellent editing and arthouse like visuals of nature. The cast is phenomenal, but it is co-writer/ co-director Sim-Fewer who truly shines giving us a powerful and emotional performance. It's a breakthrough role that ranks among the finest in the genre in recent times. By overthrowing the tropes and expectations of this subgenre, while staying very true to its feminist heart, we are given one of the best examples of this type of film. Uncompromising and shocking, when it needs to be, this movie is simply unforgettable staying you well past its final second. 



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