A rape revenge film for the #MeToo era, violation is a grainy, suspenseful thriller that surpasses its greeting, if only for its desolation. Avoid the “clichés” of the sub-genre that often deals with violent rape or gang rape, violation narrows in a much more common form of sexual assault.
Co-writer and co-director Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, violation is about Miriam (Sims-Fewer) who wakes up when her sister Dylan’s husband (Jesse LaVercombe) has sex with her. She confronts him the next day, where he claims everything was amicable. She wants to move on, but between the smoldering trauma and his refusal to take responsibility, it’s impossible to move on.
violation feels all too real and the filmmakers are ruthless. The film is bloody, disgusting and awkward, but again Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli take their revenge thriller onto a street that is less traveled. It’s so goddamn grounded that I’d call it steadfast, unless it’s twitching as hell. The big scene (no, don’t The Scene) is erotic, awkward, uncomfortable, then visual, brutal and even more brutal. You don’t want to watch but you can’t look away. It’s a fascinating cinema, painful as it is.
The film turned out well from start to finish, thanks in part to Sim-Fewer’s unshakable performance. Beautifully received, sharply edited and slim in delivery, there is little to complain about violation from a filmmaking perspective.
But at 107 minutes it feels long. Yes, it’s slim in many ways, but the story doesn’t have enough to keep its duration going. The big problem is that the film climaxes too early, although the unconventional narrative structure of the film regards the big scene as a surprise, Miriam’s motifs initially a mystery. Once things snap into place, when you really know what’s going on violation draws out the rest of the story – a truly unique, deliberate, and planned act – for far too long. As fascinated as I was, after a while I literally declared, “I see.” And the film lasts another 30 minutes.
violation is a well-made film, but its challenging material and extended third act make for a somewhat boring experience.
This film was reviewed as part of coverage at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.