Miss Violence movie review: keep it in the family

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

Miss Violence yellow light

Deeply unnerving, yet it borders on a salacious exploitation of the everyday horrors it means to condemn.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

In a sterile gray apartment in an unnamed Greek city, a family is celebrating a child’s birthday. After the cake for newly 11-year-old Angeliki (Chloe Bolota), the girl, still in her pretty white party dress, calmly walks out onto the balcony, climbs over the railing, and jumps to her death on the concrete many floors below. What would prompt a child to do such a thing? What would cause her family to react by hardly reacting at all? Screenwriter (with Kostas Peroulis) and director Alexandros Avranas only parsimoniously doles out information about those Angeliki has left behind, and in a way that leads our imaginations nowhere but in horrific directions. Why does 30something Eleni (Eleni Roussinou) seem to be in the thrall of her Father (Themis Panou)? Why are she and her remaining children — a teenaged girl, a much younger girl, and a boy — living with him? Is the older woman (Reni Pittaki) in the household Eleni’s mother, or Father’s mother? Why does Father control their lives with such strict regimentation? Where is the children’s father (or fathers) in all of this… or, oh Christ, is Father their father? The places Miss Violence — which won Best Director and Best Actor (for Panou) at last year’s Venice Film Festival — takes us are deeply unnerving and, simultaneously, all too banal. And while the banality of its powerful unpleasantness is surely intended to be an indictment of our real world — this shit is happening all the time, both in actuality and metaphorically — I was left, in the end, with a profound feeling of senseless emptiness, and a worry that what I had just seen bordered on a salacious exploitation of horrors it means to condemn.

share and enjoy
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll, anti-abuse measure. If your comment is not spam, trollish, or abusive, it will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately. (Further comments may still be deleted if spammy, trollish, or abusive, and continued such behavior will get your account deleted and banned.)
notify of
1 Comment
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 1:35pm

That’s been a hard problem for a while, and I don’t think there’s any single answer: the same film that causes one person to be revolted will give another voyeuristic pleasure. It probably changes with time and the changing range of acceptable conversations, too.

That said, sometimes I’ve had the feeling that maybe the director was enjoying things just a bit too much.