I have watched this film twice and it took the second view to say this Canadian film is a gem. Personally, I would advise you to watch it more than once. It is one of those films that beg for interpretation. The elements to keep an eye and mind on could be sexual assault, PTSD, familial disfunction, rape- revenge and cruelty.
The film starts rolling and the credits are a bit blurred. Now that sparked a thought why? In fact it started a mini trance of extreme curiosity. Were the directors trying to make a statement and if so what was it?
Could it be the link between reality and fiction is blurry or have I watched too many French and Italian art films always looking for subtle symbolism! My take is the film vacillates upon fantasy and reality. That nice girl Miriam (Sims-Fewer) really didn’t do that horrific act. Perhaps it is her fantasy? Perhaps it is reality and a vicious one at that.
And what about that wolf in the beginning grabbing a rabbit pretending to be dead? Does the fact that Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) also hunts rabbits somehow a message of a predator in Dylan? Is Miriam also a predator and what about the numerous shots of insects? Symbolic of decay?
The storyline is relatively simple Miriam and Caleb (Obi Abili) head up to Dylan’s beautiful lakeside cottage for an annual visit. Dylan is married to Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire). Miriam and Greta appear to have a solid relationship as the film begins but in reality their relationship is permeated by jealousy if not great spite.
Set in the woods and isolated from the day to day lets the characters interact intensely. Throw in some infidelity to spice things up and a barbaric act by Miriam but that may just be fantasy. If that nasty act by Miriam is real what a violent and dangerous lady. Did Dylan deserve his fate or fantasy as the case may be. Is he guilty of sexual assault?
What I can say that this is an engaging film and, in my view, capable of differing interpretations. I don’t see much symbolism in Canadian films but I see it here. The cinematography is stunning and artsy (but not overdone) and the music both angelic and eerie.
Sims-Fewer dominates the screen. The film has done the festival circuit including Sundance. “Violation” has been honoured with 3 nominations from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Female Actor.
It is directed, written and produced by Madeline Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli and hard to believe this is their debut film although they have experience with shorts.
Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox will have an exclusive digital film release on March 19 and the VIFF Connect Virtual Theatre starts a run on March 26th.