Violet & Daisy Reviews
May 17, 2013
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.
September 16, 2011
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.
January 17, 2014
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.
December 7, 2013
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+
November 12, 2013
Basically a light, character driven, "Pulp Fiction". It could have been absolutely awful affair if not for stellar performances by Gandolfini, Ronan and at times, even Bledel.
This ultra comical premise is thoroughly contrasted through a series of dark themes and complex character study. The setting may have alluded to a violent action fest but in the end it's a bitter sweet tale about a dying man and the meaning of friendship (or at least what it means for a couple of teen killers)
Despite its somewhat derivative style of Tarantino's it kind of works as a sincere character drama but only as far as your interest in the protagonists would take you in the first place.
|Cameron W. Johnson||
December 8, 2013
"Hanna 2: Back in Action"! Jokes aside, if you want someone to play a teenaged assassin in a surrealistic action film, then it would appear as though your best bet is Saoirse Ronan... and Alexis Bledel, apparently. Maybe slasher films should take some casting notes, because Bledel is in her 30s now, and you can still buy her as the contemporary of an 18-year-old... or 17-year-old... or however old Ronan was when they made this film. Man, it took them forever to release this, although I doubt anyone will notice the almost two-year delay, because Ronan is 19 now and still looks the same as she has for a while now, and Bledel certainly isn't going to age anytime soon. Shoot, with all of my talk of Bledel and Ronan not seeming to age beyond their teen years, this is starting to sound less like a sequel to "Hanna" and more like a sequel to "Tuck Everlasting", but make no mistake people, this is film indeed about teenagers who do some sorry deeds to be so "precious", as Geoffrey S. Fletcher has experience dealing with films like those. As if his writing wasn't unsubtle enough, Fletcher is now a director who can milk his questionable visions for all their worth himself, but hey, I'll at least give the man credit for diversity, because with "Precious", he helped made quite the film about black people problems, and for his directorial debut, he makes quite the film for white people. This film is so white that the first and, for almost two years, only audience to see it was in Canada, and plus, it earns some Mexican points to get further away from the black audience just by having Danny Trejo present, so you know that this is going to be one over-the-top action flick to show that not everything at a major film festival in a country that has prominent French-speaking areas is sophisticated... and immune to criticism, as I'd imagine some people would say that there's a reason why it took them so long to release this film, which is fine and all, but most definitely not without some problems.
The refreshing elements of this film are undercut in a lot of ways by a considerable lack of exposition that not only keeps you from bonding with the material as much as you probably should, but thins out a sense of motivation and, with it, focus, thus leaving storytelling to slip into aimlessness, and characterization to dip its toes into inconsistency. Limitations in the fleshing out of character layers leave certain characterization shifts to jar, rather than flow with the currents of exposition, and yet, arguably most of the characterization layers keep consistent in obnoxiousness, if not unlikability that paints some problematic key figures in this somewhat character-driven thriller, even if such unlikability is thematic. The often inorganic layering of characterization also betrays such key themes as the one dealing with juvenility clashing with harshly adult situations, and such a blow to thematic depth waters down intrigue enough to further draw your attention to the other limitations, or at least the questionability of this narrative. I suppose this story is unique and well-handled enough to be intriguing, but there's still a good bit of, of all things, silliness, which holes in exposition make all the more glaring, not unlike other missteps in Geoffrey S. Fletcher's script, whose fall-flat moments in dialogue and humor further cheese things up, especially when backed by some serious lapses in subtlety. This film doesn't exactly carry the dramatic seriousness of "Precious", but Fletcher's written mishaps in subtlety remain problematic, and let me tell you, Fletcher's debut directorial performance doesn't soften blows to subtlety, turning in overbearing imagery, much of which is surrealistic to the point of distancing overstylization that drives inconsistencies into a generally traditionalist, if hole-filled plot structure. If nothing else, all of the overstylization to Fletcher's direction reflects ambition, which is understandable, but in turn reflects limitations in potential, in addition to other shortcomings, of which there are not just many, but enough to drive a less inspired effort into mediocrity. With all of its flaws, this is a very sensitive effort, yet in the end, mediocrity is overpowered by inspiration, - however limited it may be - which can even be found within the drawing of the basic story concept.
This story concept may be filled with holes and inconsistencies, as well as subtlety issues, but there's no taking uniqueness from this film, which isn't substantially new, but most certain refreshing as a dark comedy and offbeat coming-of-age drama, with interesting depths and themes that Geoffrey S. Fletcher's script often undercuts with developmental and subtlety problems, but just as often does justice to this subject matter with some sharp moments in dialogue and humor, as well as colorful set pieces. To tell you the truth, the film starts out kind of weak, and it's not like there aren't weak moments here and there throughout the final product's body, but once that body is reached, storytelling becomes about as realized as it can be with all of the natural and consequential shortcomings, at least on paper, and that does a lot to save the film, though not without the help of some directorial inspiration. Fletcher, as director, makes a lot of mistakes, but stylistically does better than plenty of first-time directors, delivering on fine plays with a lively soundtrack and outstandingly stylish shooting and editing in order to sustain entertainment value and provide a perk to, for thematic purposes, intentionally contradict with surrealistic and disturbing imagery that may often be too force or unsubtle to be effective, but engages on the whole. Of course, what might be the most engaging directorial element is the action, whose tight staging and dynamic choreography, backed by a biting attention to violence, thrills on both a visceral level and, to a certain extent, consequential level. At the very least, the film is stylistically outstanding, with some decent substance that is stronger in concept than it is in execution, but is still interpreted well enough to keep the final product from slipping too deeply into mediocrity, from which the effort is safely secured by the strength I was most hoping to see out of a film this driven by such a talented cast. Just about everyone delivers in this talented, but relatively small cast, yet it's all about the leads, and, boy, in spite of limitations in acting material, they really deliver, with James Gandolfini proving to be charming as a decent-seeming, deeply flawed man questioning many aspects of his life, including its worthiness, while the adorable dynamic duo of Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel both share static chemistry, and prove to be more charming than Fletcher's obnoxious and undercooked material as spry teens with disturbing demons that are most sold when effective dramatic beats kick in. The more film unravels, the more it becomes kind of a moving, and while we can thank highlights in Fletcher's direction for setting up emotional resonance, it's Gandolfini, Bledel and Ronan who anchor it, maybe not to where they carry the final product too terribly far, but decidedly to where they rank among the greatest of many strengths that save the final product as decent, in spite of some glaring missteps.
When it's all said and done, a lack of development thins out both focus and consistency in sometimes obnoxious characterization, while reflecting natural shortcomings to this thin and somewhat silly premise about as much as glaring subtlety issues and overstylizing that place serious threats on the final product's decency, ultimately secured by a refreshing and intriguing story concept's being done enough justice by sharp moments in writing, directorial style and action, and consistently strong lead performances from Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel and James Gandolfini that ultimately make "Violet & Daisy" a reasonably entertaining and sometimes moving dark comedy-drama, even with lost potential.
2.5/5 - Fair
December 23, 2013
The idea of "Violet & Daisy" was likely much more interesting than the execution. The idea of two young girls, interested in lollipops and pop singers, doubling as assassins is quite the tale. But as most of the film takes place in one living room and the actresses aren't totally allowed to shine, the entire film falls flat. As touched on by most reviews that I've read, had Quentin Tarantino taken hold of this concept, the result would have been much more grand. But instead, Geoffrey S. Fletcher, a first-time director, takes the reigns. You know his name as being the Academy Award winning writer of the screenplay "Precious" and in all honesty, the screenplay for "Violet & Daisy" is not a poorly written script. It's simply a retread of many other ideas that are just not brought to the screen properly. Loving the work of both Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan, their innocent yet volatile personas as Violet and Daisy are great turns for them; once in a lifetime roles that are fun but do very little for their careers. With them, we also get one of James Gandolfini's final performances, which strangely rings true to life, as his character suffers from an illness that will kill him. Instead, he takes matters into his own hands and gets on the radar of some bad people in order to get these two assassins to show up and kill him instead. The dialogue and character development are as ridiculous as the premise of the film, but somehow it all comes off with the most serious tone. But instead of this helping the film, it continues a strange middle ground between Tarantino and warped fairy tale that simply doesn't work for a feature film. Had this been a short, the darkness of the comedy could have been endured, but the entire feature brings to mind recent satires, for example "God Bless America". Despite dropping the ball as an interesting narrative, "Violet & Daisy" does allow us to enjoy Gandolfini for one of the very last times in film and for that I am grateful. With such an enormous career, even a small film like this gives us just a little bit more time with him.
February 26, 2014
This had a bit of a Quentin Tarantino feel to it but it was mostly very dull. James Gandolfini did a great job in a terrible movie and Saoirse Ronan is an amazingly beautiful actress.
October 2, 2014
Thursday, October 2, 2014
(2013) Violet & Daisy
November 22, 2013
I don't see what the problem is. It's funny in a way, because a few months before I watched this I watched "Ginger & Rosa," another female best friends film, which has quite a few similarities to Violet & Daisy but is still very different. Whereas Ginger & Rosa is a quiet, slow film that forces us to soak in the depth of life's mundane moments, Violet & Daisy is somewhat the opposite--the overall arc is slow moving, because the majority of the film takes place in a single day, but the editing, dialogue, and direction make this film fast-paced. Some may argue this film is light on character development, but I'd say that was intentional. The character development is in the little things--the symbolism, the quiet moments, the mis-en-scene. The first two thirds are great, but it's in the last third of the movie when things really take off performance-wise, and you realize that this film was woefully under-appreciated by critics. And yes, the performances are what redeemed this movie. But even if the performances were crappy, the direction and cinematography alone make it worth watching. Every shot is carefully planned. There's a lot of balance and symmetry throughout, and whenever there isn't any, that's when we get deeper insights into who Violet and Daisy are as individuals. I suppose I'm somewhat easy to please, but each time I watch this movie, I find something new to think about. If you're looking for a movie that's packed with action and has a complicated storyline, you won't find it here. But if you enjoy character studies, the colors blue and red, and songs from the 1970s, gives this a shot. (Pun intended.)
August 10, 2014
The stupidest film ever made. It's not engaging and a terrible clone to Pulp Fiction.
July 17, 2014
1 Star for Saoirse Ronan & Alexis Bledel, 1 Star for James Gandolfini, the movie was bad but their performances was good.
June 29, 2014
I can't understand why this movie didn't do better. The cartoonish violence at the beginning has little to do with the many dimensions of the movie itself. People keep calling it wanna-be Tarantino, but honestly, I think Quentin would have been proud of this movie
June 16, 2014
I sat through this terrible thing while watching for the rerun of Game of Thrones. I have hardly ever seen such a misguided mess. It's all over the place, characters are terrible, vapid and nonsensical. Probably Gandolfini is the only passable character. But still, it's like it wants to be everything: Gilliam, Tarantino, Aronofski? At points seems like satire then there's a lot of people talking and talking and talking. Don't waste your time, it's all over the place.
May 18, 2014
This film is very strange. It starts as an offbeat comedy, but slowly got drawn out too long. The situation became more and more silly, but wasn't stylised enough. The fault of this film is trying to hard to be a Tarantino or like "God Bless America".
March 19, 2014
One line summary: Surreal art film about teen female contract killers.
Violet and Daisy are contract killers. In the opening sequence they murder 6 people while dressed as nuns. Soon thereafter, Daisy turns 18, so she can get charged as an adult. Violet is a bit older, but probably not by much. They turn down a new job. Then they see some dresses that they want to buy. They take the job to get money to buy dresses.
The second job is to kill one guy who stole some money from someone higher in their organisation. Their target shows up late, after they take a nap. They try shooting him with their eyes closed. He's in the kitchen making oatmeal cookies for them. Oh, my. He is dying anyway, and hopes they go ahead with their job.
There is a lot of talk among Violet, Daisy, and their target. This is coupled with a number of odd incidents (like the shootout at the hardware store) that are interspersed with the ongoing conversation.
Iris drops by to nudge the girls forward.
Will the girls finally finish the job, stay out of jail, and go on with their shallow lives?
Cinematography: 10/10 Beautifully shot!
Sound: 10/10 Amazingly good.
Acting: 7/10 Alexis Bledel was 30 when this film came out. She's best friends with a girl who just turned 18? Oi. I like Gandalfini, Trejo, Bledel, and Jean-Baptiste even more than I did before seeing this film. I'm sure they did what the auteur asked of them, and they certainly did it well. Ronan, on the other hand, is an actor I can count on to deliver a disappointing performance.
Screenplay: 5/10 Patty-cake? Really? Absurd and surreal set the stage. There was not enough story to fill the 88 minutes. The theoretical side of me saw that many of the lines were meant to be humorous, but I did not find myself laughing or even smiling.
March 18, 2014
A curve-ball in the movie industry! Wonderful acting in a twisted story.
March 15, 2014
Hard to describe a movie like this. It was clearly very low budget and very well made. Most people seem to not enjoy it, but I would not count myself as one. A story that seems to be closer to a fairy tale than a Tarantino esch pulp flick.
June 8, 2013
Not surprised that this took so many years to finally get distributed. Was this supposed to be kind of an art film, or was it just a bunch of fanciful nonsense? I enjoy the cast members for their own individual reasons, but I'm not sure what this was supposed to be about. And how old is Alexis Bledel now, trying to play 18? Yeah. An odd film. It wasn't terrible, but I can't really say it's worth watching just to kill some time, either.