Olivia Munn delivers a a career-best performance in Justine Bateman’s directorial debut, Violet, making its Canadian premiere during TIFF.
Let me tell you right off the bat that you need to be in the right mindset for the film. If you don’t have the right headspace, this film could prove to be problematic. Take it from me: I had major depression hit just before SXSW this year. Because of this, I didn’t review Violet during back in March. If I did, it would have been depression talking and informing my thoughts on the film. Talk about watching a film about holding it together while you’re struggling to do so at the same time! I did do a rewatch of the film ahead of the festival and while it’s not an easy watch, there’s still a lot to admire about Bateman’s presentation of the film let alone Munn’s award-worthy performance. We’ve seen films that display anxiety and insecurities before but not in a way that Violet does.
Violet Calder (Olivia Munn) is a film executive living in Los Angeles. Because of the Voice (Justin Theroux) residing in her head, she lives her entire life in fear of worst-case scenarios. She gives into these insecurities and it honestly brings out the worst in her. Neither her family, friends, or co-workers have seen her true self because the Voice dominates all the decisions she makes. While these insecurities and anxiety manifest itself in one way or another, there’s a question of how can she overcome it. Can she go from living in fear to making decisions based on instinct?
Violet is one of the best films to show the effects of mental health and it’ll be a cinematic example for some time to come. Discussing mental health shouldn’t been seen as a stigma and Bateman’s film shows the devastating effects that lie in mental health’s wake. In this case, it’s Violet’s anxiety and insecurities driving her terrible decisions–all of which, again, come by way of The Voice and cursive text on screen. Bateman presents the voice inside Violet in a way that can only work in television or film. Maybe this sort of story would work as a book but I just can’t see it happening.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Justine Bateman
CAST: Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Luke Bracey, Erica Ash, Dennis Boutsikaris, Peter Jacobson, Zach Gordon, Bonnie Bedelia, Todd Stashwick