Violet & Daisy (2013)
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are a pair of gum-chomping, gun-toting teenage assassins who casually snuff out crime figures in New York City, bothered only by the fact that a concert by their favorite pop idol Barbie Sunday has suddenly been canceled. Determined to raise cash for some Barbie Sunday dresses, the duo takes on a new hit, only to discover a kind of reckoning in the form of sad-sack shut-in (James Gandolfini) who is dying alone in his apartment of terminal cancer. He persuades the duo to kill him out of mercy, prompting an odyssey of self-examination that catapults the junior enforcers into a world beyond Barbie Sunday and bullets for pay. From Geoffrey Fletcher, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of PRECIOUS comes a mesmerizing hybrid of New York City crime fable and existential coming-of-age drama in which teenage kicks match wits with adult-world turmoil, placing three wounded souls into a line of fire none expected - themselves.-- (C) Cinedigm … More
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Critic Reviews for Violet & Daisy
This self-consciously quirky comedy-thriller... swings unevenly between passages of soul searching and bouts of cartoony violence in the Tarantino mould.
Though it can't keep up that kind of energy throughout, especially as it's set mostly in one room, it's charming enough -- and short enough -- that there are no hard feelings.
Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan are way too good for material as obnoxious as this.
A lot of acting talent is squandered in Violet & Daisy, a sort of postmodern coming-of-age story about two teenage girls who kill people for a living, then play patty-cake as they plan their next hit.
Subverting audience expectations of an over the top "teenage girl killer" movie with a character study could have been great, but the character study in question feels paper thin.
Neither as writer nor as director is Fletcher able to sustain his conceit.
While the concept has potential, it becomes an exercise in shallow gimmickry that never captures the right tone to generate either laughs or suspense.
A thriller that might as well have been released in 1996, when everybody and their brother and their sister and their cousin twice-removed was trying to be Quentin Tarantino ...
A fluffy excuse for random violence is saved by ethereal performances by Saoirse Ronan and James Gandolfini.
A movie can stick with genre basics if it has fun doing so, but Violet & Daisy lacks the freewheeling spirit of great B movies.
Subversive, bold and fresh. A guilty pleasure in spite of its uneven tone.
Violet & Daisy is a cool movie. It's strange and ambitious and affecting and extremely well-acted throughout a thoroughly esoteric script.
You can almost see the moment when the super-talented Saoirse Ronan checks out in terms of character and I think James Gandolfini gave up before the end of rehearsal. I just felt bad for Alexis Bledel.
Hardly a follow-up that will have [Fletcher] garnering more awards. Not because it's bad; it's just really cartoony, as in artificial, two-dimensional and rather childish.
Of course, the violence is cringe-worthy and, at times, over the top. But view this as a modern comic book/fairy tale, and it's easier to accept this saga of girls with guns and the life lessons they eventually confront.
The film's subtle visual allure is all but stamped out by the impression that the director tries too hard to be an idiosyncratic auteur in the vein of Quentin Tarantino.
Violet and Daisy are just violent and crazy - which is, ultimately, the real problem. And why we should care about them remains the one mystery no one here can quite unravel.
Audience Reviews for Violet & Daisy
This is obviously a passion project for writer/director Geoffrey S. Fletcher, after his success writing the screenplay for "Precious." The film follows two teenaged assassins who act girlishly, and care more about fashion and being alternative than their actual marks. They are tasked to kill Michael (Gandolfini) but find it very difficult because they bond with him. The premise could have been great if the characters were better, and it was either more or less campy, but this film is stuck in purgatory. Most of the scenes are quiet, austere moments when the conversation turns to whispers and our protagonists become contemplative about their lives. Though the film progresses with our two killers learning a lot, they come out of the film as bland and cheery as in the beginning. Besides its meandering plot, this film does have amazing cinematography, and the editing mirrors Tarantino's later films. Still, this approach to murder via childish purity needs tender care and attention, and Fletcher is more preoccupied with tone and style.More
This was written and directed by Geoffrey S. Fletcher, who won an Oscar for his script for Precious.
I'm kinda thinking that maybe the Academy should take his statue back.
This tale of two gum chewing, gun toting teenage teeny bopper assassins should have been a fun romp, and yeah, some of it is kinda fun and enjoyable, but overall, it's just a weird, uneven mess. That, and only one of the two leads is an actual teenager (just barely, since she's 19), while the other is freakin' 32.
Anyways, Violet and Daisy, when not performing hits, are die hard fans of pop superstar Barbie SUnday, and, when they find out that her upcoming concert is cancelled, they get upset, but decide to drown their sorrows by buying the latest items from her clothing line. Only problem is, they're short on cash, so they take on what should be a quick and easy routine hit, only to end up in a situation that's far more complicated than it first appears.
This one had a lot of potential. It could have basically been a far more girly and childlike (but still awesome) take on what a standalone Hit-Girl film might be like. Instead, it's, as I mentioned, a really uneven mess. It's also fairly dull, dumb, and honestly, a tad boring. At least it's only 88 mins.
Even then, I found it a chore to sit through. The film just doesn't really know what it is, and it feels like it can decide on if it should veer more towards surreal camp, or if it should be a tad more serious. It attempts to do all of this, and yeah, it falls flat.
It also comes off as oddly dated and out of place, like it should have been made circa 1995 instead of 2013. Yeah, it's trying to be 'cool' in that post-Pulp Fiction kind of vein.
It doesn't work too well in that regard either. Also, I think ALexis Bledel's attempts to act like a giddy teen make her seem kinda not right in the head. Both she and Ronan struggle to nail down the varying facets of their characters. But maybe it's not their fault. Maybe they're trying their best, and it's Fletcher who screwed up as the writer.
Yeah, I really didn't like this, and I'm disappointed because I really wanted to. WHat keeps me from hating it more are two things. 1. The appearance of James Gandolfini as the target of the girls's latest hit, and the appearance of John Ventimiglia, who, like Gandolfini, is a Sopranos Alum. If the actor's name doesn't ring a bell, he played Artie Bucco, owner of (Nuovo) Vesuvio's. Yeah, not even an all too brief appearance by Danny Trejo can help this out too much. And even with Gandolfini, I felt like his performance was too good for this, and would have been better suited to a stronger film.
I will say that the cinematography is decent, and, in theory, so is the film's concept.
It's just a shame that it's execution fails to hit the mark.
Young. Innocent. Deadly.
Good Movie! Although we appreciated the film, I had trouble understanding to whom exactly the target audience would be for the film upon its release. It is too violent to be marketed to the younger crowd. And it has too many comic book type elements to appeal to an older demographic that might have a hard time understanding how and why so many genres intertwine throughout the story. We ourselves loved the film. We were able to extract the humour and the violence separately and enjoyed the overall story. The two leads were innocently conflicted and their views and impressions on life and their past were engrossing tales that connected audiences with their characters. Violet & Daisy might not be the film that everyone wants it to be, expects it to be or maybe even should be, but it was an enjoyable hit man comedy that can take its place amongst the In Bruges of the film world.
Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan.
It's not often that I say this but... what the hell did I just watch? I know it's a movie called Violet & Daisy, written and directed by Geoffrey Fletcher, the man who won a screenwriting Oscar for adapting Precious. But what is this? It is some meta commentary on film violence? A twisted fairy tale? A dark comedy? Whatever it is, I know for certain that it was not very good or entertaining.
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are teenagers who also work as hired assassins by their boss, Russ (Danny Trejo). Their next assignment has a personal angle: Michael (James Gandolfini) stole a large sum of money from Russ. The gals hide out in Michael's apartment only to fall asleep. When they wake up, Michael is sitting there, accepting his fate, begging the girls to complete their job. He's dying from terminal cancer, estranged from his daughter, and hoping to exit this world on his own terms. Over the course of one long afternoon, the gals run into rival gangs, a trained sniper, police, neighbors, and all sorts of other plot contrivances to delay the death of Michael.
If you're like me, with similar expectations when it comes to your moviegoing experiences, you'll be left scratching your head and fumbling for some kind of rationale why people decided to make a film like Violet & Daisy. It feels instantly dated, relying upon the hook of young teen girls with big guns, you know, the same model that has translated to many a successful video game. More so than that, the aspiration, or at least direct inspiration, appears to be a Tarantino-knock-off. Not ripping off Tarantino, as many did in the mid-to-late 90s, but ripping off a poor Tarantino knock-off, like Two Days in the Valley or, the more adept comparison, The Big Hit. There is so much crap in this movie that exists merely because somebody thought it would look cool. Violet and Daisy open the movie dressed as pizza-delivering nuns (is this a fetish I am unaware of?) and open fire on a gang of criminals. But before their fateful gunfight, you better believe it, they have an innocuous conversation about something small, you know, like Jules and Vincent. Why are they dressed as nuns, let alone nuns delivering pizza? It doesn't matter. This is a movie that doesn't exist in a universe minutely close to our own. Everything about this film feels painfully and artificial. You know what previous job Violet and Daisy had? They worked at the "doll hospital," a literal ward for dolls. The decisions of this movie are driven purely by a stylized self-indulgent whimsy. Once you realize this, and you will, the movie becomes even more of a chore to finish.
Then there's the bizarre and sometimes uncomfortable infantilization of the female lead characters. These ladies do not act like adults; they don't even act like teenagers. Even though they're both over 18 years old, their behavior more closely resembles that of a flighty seven-year-old. Their speaking patterns are often in an annoying and partially creepy baby coo. They play paddy cake after successful hits. They ride tricycles. They chew bubblegum and blow bubbles during hits. They get excited about new Barbie Sunday dresses, and this is their real motivation for taking assassination jobs. Yes, to buy dresses. Then there's their game, the Internal Bleeding Dance, where they hop up and down on the chests of their dying victims, blood spurting out of their mouths, the girls giggling, as if they were bouncing on a bed at a slumber party. These women aren't remotely actual characters; they are masturbatory quirky hipster fodder, the ironically detached, sexy baby doll killer approximation. Except there is never any commentary at work. The depiction of Violet and Daisy as petite killers never approaches anything meaningful. They are killers because it's cool. They talk like lobotomized film noir archetypes because it's cool. This is quirk run amok, quirk with a gun and no purpose. I'm trying hard to ignore the obvious sexual kink undercurrents of the whole enterprise.
Even with all these flaws, perhaps Violet & Daisy could have been morbidly interesting, except that the circuitous plot twiddles its thumbs, padding out a half-baked story. This is a movie that takes its time and seems to go nowhere. Once the girls meet Michael, the plot has to come up with numerously lame excuses to delay Michael's execution. I kid you not, there are THREE instances where the girls run out of bullets and have to stop and walk back to the hardware store to go buy ammo. This happens. This is a thing that keeps the plot moving. It's like as soon as the main characters get into a room together, Fletcher has to struggle to come up with reasons why his narrative should still exist. So we get a second group that Michael stole from because this guy has an even bigger death wish. This second group of spurned bad guys is on their way. If Fletcher was going this route, he might as well gone whole-hog imitating Smokin' Aces and just had numerous crews all fighting over taking out this schlub first. It feels like Fletcher is making up the story as he goes, taking us on relatively pointless nonlinear interludes to pad the running time. The film, like Tarantino, breaks up the story into a series on onscreen chapters, though one of these only lasts like a minute. Then there's a loopy dream sequence. The narrative is so stagnant that whatever interest you may have had will long be gone. By the time the movie actually does end, at about 80 minutes, it has long felt creatively exhausted, totally gassed. Fletcher throws out all the stops to get across that finish line.
Even though it was filmed way back in 2010, it's hard to escape the morbid irony of Gandolfini (Enough Said) playing a character discussing his own inevitable death. He's the best actor in the film, offering a paternal warmth that goes wasted amidst all the stylistic nonsense. Our other two featured players, Bledel (TV's Gilmore Girls) and Ronan (The Host), have a sprightly chemistry together that works. I just wish all three actors had something to do rather than strike artificial poses and quip.
After enduring The Paperboy, and "enduring" is indeed the correct term, I was certain that the messy, tonally uneven, sometimes garish flights of fancy in Precious were due to director Lee Daniels. After enduring, and again "enduring" is the correct term, Violet & Daisy, I'm starting to think that Fletcher is deserves equal credit. Violet & Daisy is a curious exercise in twee indie hipness, suffused with quirk standing in place for characters, story, meaning, etc. It feels like the development stopped once the core concept of teen girl assassins was concocted. The off-putting childish nature of the adult girls, juxtaposed with the baby doll sexuality of the film, makes for an uncomfortable watch. To call the film bad taste is too easy. Whether this is a bizarre dark comedy, a whacko modern fairy tale, or whatever term you want to apply to justify the artificial excesses and emptiness, Violet & Daisy is a contrived mess that labors to fill out a basic feature running time, often doubling back and delaying. There isn't a story here, more just an incongruent, irregular style. If you're content with a knockoff of a Tarantino knockoff, with an extra dose of whimsy, then enjoy Violet & Daisy and you can dance your cares away atop bleeding bodies.
Nate's Grade: D+
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