Violation review – a brutal and brilliant debut

The revenge movie is the blunt weapon in the film-maker’s toolkit. Audience bloodlust is sated by justifiable violence; we get a guilt-free kick out of the kicking because justice is seen to be served. As a genre, it’s effective, but basic. Infinitely more unsettling and challenging are the films that dissect the whole idea of revenge, confronting the audience with its own complicity – films such as Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible and now Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s brutal and brilliant directorial debut, Violation.

Violation is as much a film about trauma as it is about revenge. In a PTSD-shattered timeline, the remarkable Sims-Fewer plays Miriam, a woman visiting her sister (Anna Maguire) and brother-in-law (Jesse LaVercombe). The sisters cling to a comfort blanket of shared history, but it’s soon stained by an act of betrayal. Miriam finds herself compelled to seek revenge. But no amount of meticulous planning can prepare her – and us – for the visceral realities of the act. The muted natural light of dawn and dusk elsewhere in the film is a contrast to the scorching campfire orange that drenches the violence; the naturalism of the performances is heightened by merciless details in the sound design. It’s gruelling, but fiercely intelligent film-making.

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