VIOLET & DAISY (2011)
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo, Tatiana Maslany, John Ventimiglia, Cassidy Hinkle, Cody Horn, Lynda Gravatt, Stu ‘Large’ Riley, Neville Archambault, Christopher Jon Gombos, Ismael Peter Casillas III, Nick Choksi, Morgan Demeola, Danielle DeSantis, Jeff Grossman, Jeffrey M. Marchetti, Leif Riddell, Paul Thornton, Naeem Uzimann and Emerald-Angel Young.
Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher.
Directed by Geoffrey Fletcher.
Distributed by Cinedigm Entertainment Group. 88 minutes. Rated R.
The idea behind Violet & Daisy is just crazy enough that it may work as a terrific social satire, if only the screenwriter and first-time director Geoffrey Fletcher (who is best known for his Oscar-winning screenplay on the very, very different Precious) had figured out exactly what he wanted to say with his idea. Or even if he figured out anything that he wanted to say with his idea.
This is the story of the titular characters, two chatty but slightly vapid young women (they both seem to be in their early 20s, though Alexis Bledel is 31 and Saoirse Ronan is 19 so it’s hard to get a peg on their ages). Violet (Bledel) and Daisy (Ronan) are besties, share an apartment, obsess on a pop star and make a living as the world’s quirkiest and cutest hit women. Literally, we meet them on the job, and they are disguised as pizza-delivering nuns. They ride to their gigs on a tricycle. They have Hello Kitty-cute discussions about everything from fashion to boys to dreams to munitions, leaving behind blood-stained corpse-ridden apartments in their wake.
Like I said, it’s just fucked up enough that it could work.
Sometimes it even does hit the mark, but the amusing aspect of this one-note joke concept doesn’t last nearly as long as the rather short running time of 88 minutes.
In fact, it turns out that the great majority of the film ends up being a three people trapped together in an apartment. This limited scope could potentially either make the film unbearably tense or bring the film’s faults into sharp focus. It turns out that it does both things.
This huge chunk of the movie is when Violet and Daisy get a gig to wipe out Michael (James Gandolfini), a good-hearted and likable schlub who has decided to commit suicide by hit man, pissing off some mob types in the hope of having a hit put out on him.
Violet and Daisy show up in his apartment when it is empty, so they wait for him, eventually both falling asleep cutely on his couch. (Yeah, the quirk factor is getting dangerously high here.) Michael good-naturedly waits for them to wake up, reading the paper and cooking them cookies. (And yes, it’s getting even higher.)
The girls wake, talk with the guy and start to like him. However, they are not used to killing people who they know or like, even though he seems quite ready for them to pull the trigger. And this becomes the central conceit of the film, the girls try to build up their resolution to kill the guy, while the world violently intrudes a few times.
Oddly enough, the quieter conversations between the girls and the man are in general much more interesting than the periodic spurts of very brutal (and often very graphic) violence. And the irony of the story – that the girls are killing this guy so that they can afford a new dress advertised by a vapid pop star – is never quite looked at starkly enough.
Bledel and Ronan do their best with the characters – it’s particularly a stretch for Bledel who came up in good girl roles like Rory Gilmore – but the characters are so symbolically vapid that there is only so much sympathy you can build up for them.
Gandolfini, as seems to be his lot in life as an actor post-Sopranos, has some very fine moments which may be worthy of a better film than he is acting in.
Violet & Daisy has been filmed and waiting on some back shelf since 2011, and that hesitance may be somewhat deserved. It is an interesting idea that never quite connects, but sometimes it comes rather close. Still, the movie probably isn’t worth tracking down in its theatrical run (which undoubtedly will be extremely short and limited to a few cities). Violet & Daisy is the type of movie that you’ll probably enjoy much more if you just innocently stumble over it on late night cable.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 7, 2013.