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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Miss Violence movie review: keep it in the family

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.

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Miss Violence (2014)
UK/Ire release: Jun 20 2014

BBFC: rated 18 (child abuse theme, sexual violence)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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