Violet & Daisy (2011)
★ / ★★★★
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are a pair of teenage assassins and best friends who live together. They are supposed to have time off but after seeing a magazine advert which features their idol’s new fashion line, they accept a job offer to earn enough money to purchase a dress. However, their latest hit is unlike anyone they have encountered prior: he wants to get killed and, preferably, as soon as possible.
Written and directed by Geoffrey Fletcher, “Violet & Daisy” attempts to create a contrast by embracing the messy and the saccharine, in terms of the violence inflicted by the girls and their innocence, respectively, but it does not work because the characters are vapid. There is more emphasis on the supposedly cool thing put on the screen rather than a true careful attention to detail—a slow burn study of two girls who, while on the job, experience a fissure in what appears to be a close friendship.
The razzmatazz of the visuals distracts more than entertains. While some work beautifully, like Violet standing on a pile of corpses on the bathtub while taking a shower, scenes involving shootouts are boring, predictable, and pointless. The point-and-shoot approach gets tired real quick when guns are the only weapons used to kill. This might not have been a problem if the material suggested that violence was not meant to be fun or enjoyable. Clearly, with so much effort and energy put into how a person should be shot, what we are supposed to take pleasure in is seeing bullets immobilizing a target.
The acting is clunky and forced. While Ronan and Bledel acting like really young girls made me somewhat uncomfortable—and perhaps that is the point—the one-note acting from the latter is most frustrating. Bledel’s delivery often falls flat especially when her character is supposed to exude a certain level of menace. When those moments come around, as hard as I tried to get into it, I kept noticing a performer who has memorized her lines well. What is missing is the necessary emotion—a precise thunder of angst—to allow the scene to blossom and make it believable.
James Gandolfini, playing their curious target, stands head and shoulders above the leads. He is the only one who seems to have a complete idea about the type of character he is playing. He can have his eyes closed and still deliver intensity. I sensed more danger with his character than I did the two assassins. Halfway through, I wondered if the picture might have been stronger if it had been told through his point of view. There seems to be a lot going through his head even when he is just sitting on a chair and reading the newspaper.
On top of performances that leave a whole lot to be desired, the screenplay does not provide the lead characters with appropriate depth. “Violet & Daisy” is supposed to be thriller with some dramatic elements. An ounce of complexity, in the least, is to be expected. As a result, for the most part it looks and feels like a knockoff of Tarantino-like picture that leads with quirky dialogue combined with a healthy dose of violence minus all the fun and ingenuity.