Saturday 10 February 2018

Movie Review: Violet And Daisy (2011)

An action thriller with dramatic elements, Violet And Daisy borrows heavily from Tarantino in a story about two teenaged girl assassins on a mission that goes sideways.

In New York City, cool and carefree teenagers Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) work as a duo to assassinate targets selected by their handler Russ (Danny Trejo). After successfully completing a complex mission, Violet and Daisy reluctantly accept another quick and seemingly simple assignment because they need money to buy new dresses.

Their new target is known as just The Guy (James Gandolfini), and his crime is stealing money from gangsters. Violet and Daisy literally fall asleep on the job in The Guy's apartment, triggering a series of events in which they get to know the Guy much more than they intended, with Daisy in particular becoming sympathetic to his difficult relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile, the girls tangle with another hit squad, repeatedly run out of bullets, and learn some truths about each other.

Written, directed and co-produced by Geoffrey S. Fletcher, Violet And Daisy starts strong with direct echoes of Pulp Fiction and The Killers, but then stalls. The opening sequence features Violet and Daisy dressed as nuns, delivering pizza, engaged in banter and then blowing away an army of goons. The scene is magnificently Tarantinoesque, but also sets up expectations that Fletcher cannot deliver on.

Most of the rest of the film takes place in The Guy's non-descript apartment. The script falls short and does not sustain the drama-in-a-room premise. It's painfully clear that Fletcher runs out of ideas about halfway through, and fuzzy interventions by another assassin and a dream sequence start to meander towards incoherent territory.

Punchy interludes do liven up proceedings, including another shootout followed by an internal bleeding dance that corrals nasty and hilarious into the same loop.

If there is an underlying theme it appears to relate to father-daughter issues, with The Guy giving up hope as his daughter gives up on him and Violet dealing with absentee daddy and suppressed memory syndromes. But the film is too far into cartoonish violence combined with bubblegum irreverence to be taken seriously, no matter what the topic.

The three central performances are accomplished and deserved better material. Gandolfini delivers a controlled turn as a man close to the point of not caring, while Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan dive without hesitation into the make-believe world of giddy trigger-happy teenaged killers salivating about the latest fashion trend between hits. When assassins are motivated by designer dresses, the end must be near.

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