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Review: Violet (2014)

Director: | 82 minutes | | Actors: , , ,

A group of loitering youths can be seen on a security camera of a soulless shopping center. They greet each other, haggle around a bit and have no eye for the shops around them. Their presence seems aimless, but when they spot two unsuspecting peers, this quickly changes. The abrupt confrontation turns into a small brawl. It seems without much danger until one of the attacked boys collapses. The other watches silently. The silent image from the camera records the whole event.

In addition to being somewhat convenient and conventional, this opening is also very effective to some extent. The distant but objective rendering not only has a frightening impact, but at the same time it also trivializes the attack. Because it is not so much the attack that matters in “Violet”, but especially the effect it has on Jesse, the watching second victim, who has passed everything passively. Questions such as who the perpetrators were and why they attacked at all are not important.

That passivity is echoed when he is back among friends. Why didn’t he intervene? Why didn’t he help his best friend Jonas? Why was he not attacked himself? Uncertainty begins to gnaw at him more and more. The special thing about “Violet” is that the comes very close to Jesse.

It is Jesse’s personal trauma processing that comes first in “Violet”. The film uses a very emotional style. The sound has an important function in this. Dialogues are virtually absent. It is not that there is no communication at all, but the conversations are often simply not heard. In addition, there are plenty of other sound effects that affect the sensory ability of Jesse. “Violet” plays an ingenious game with the spatial film diet. Jesse’s world of experience is regularly on-screen. His alienation from the people around him makes the outside world seem to actually take place in another universe. For example, Jesse lives in his own small, highly delimited biotope, in which the chance of escape is reduced to zero.

The unusual image ratio of 4: 3 supports Jesse’s subjective world of experience by putting him at the center of that image. He can also be seen in full focus during those lonely moments. His field of vision is shrouded in a blurry fog. Windows and other partition walls increase the distance between him and his loved ones. His face is hiding behind his long hair. The pressing camera is usually positioned from behind. In a literal sense, the rest of the world seems to be playing outside of him. Life goes on for the most part and although he tries hard to make the connection, his life has come to a standstill. The alienating light and color effects that connect the scenes together and the extremely precise lighting also reveal the subjective state of mind of the teenager. That disruptive character has a clever effect on the viewer. “Violet” tangibly gets under the skin.

Main character Jesse (César de Sutter) plays everything credibly. Tough and combative on the one hand, above all helpless, deeply sad and full of pent-up anger on the other. The overwhelming “Violet” looks for it in visual delicacy. The fact that the other stylistically great last shot breaks with that subtlety does not detract from the qualities of the story. Strong movie.

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