I’m choking on the whimsy: “Violet & Daisy”

October 6, 2013

Violet & Daisy

And sometimes you get a movie that’s like shooting fish in a barrel. In the case of Geoffrey Fletcher’s Violet & Daisy, those are some big fish in a small barrel. They might be mentally-retarded fish. Possibly even dead. Because with this film, Fletcher took all the cache he acquired from his Best Screenplay Oscar (for Precious) and spent it on a movie in which pretty much every decision in every part of the creative process was a terrible one. Violet & Daisy is one of those movies that desperately wants to be cute and quirky, but instead just makes you think that many of the characters—and possibly the filmmaker—need a serious round of antipsychotic meds.

Violet & Daisy basically takes the highest of concepts—teenage girls who work as mob hitmen—and then breaks a full sweat making sure the audience understands how damn clever the idea is. Just check out the names: Violet, Daisy, there’s even a Rose. Heh heh, that’s some good screenplaying right there.

Daisy is played Saoirse Ronan as the slightly junior, slightly naive one of the duo. Violet, played by Alexis Bledel, is the more experienced and possibly older of the two (though it’s hard to tell, since both characters talk like they’re 15 and look like they’re 30). Like normal teenagers, they’re obsessed with getting the newest dress from the fashion label of their rock-star idol. To this end, they accept a job from their mob contact, Russ (Danny Trejo). It’s an easy gig, he assures them.

And here is a screenshot dropped in from a different, better movie.

Sure. Teenagers. Right.

The job turns out to be to kill a thief who stole from the boss. Seems simple enough., but Violet and Daisy immediately notice something amiss when their target, Michael (James Gandolfini), greets their arrival with cookies. See, as we learn after many long, long, looong scenes of people trading precious dialogue, Michael is dying of cancer and deliberately stole from the mob so that they would rub him out and put him out of his misery. Because that makes sense.

And what should pretty much end the movie only serves as the one-third mark in the running time. Sweet Jesus, it gets dire. Look, I realize that Fletcher is trying to make a hip, alternative flick, but even quirk needs to be executed with a modicum of competence. A modicum of competence is beyond Fletcher in this, what must have been his long-held dream project (and don’t those always suck?).

To start with, if you’re going to cast older for your teenagers, maybe two of the most preternaturally-mature-looking actresses of their generation aren’t the best picks (especially Bledel, who, it should be noted, is 32 freaking years old!). Look, you can have them sucking lollipops, give them milk-mustaches, have them play pattycake, it doesn’t make them seem like teenagers. It just gives the NSA something new to add to my file.

If they're not going to make out there's no reason for this to happen.

If they’re not going to make out there’s no reason for this to happen.

But that’s not the end of the inanity. Oh no, that’s only the jumping off point for so much more lunacy. For example:

* In one scene, Violet and Daisy ambush their target by dressing up as pizza-delivery nuns. Shit, what possibly can I add to that?

This is a thing. Someone thought of it, and now it exists.

This is a thing. Someone thought of it, and now it exists.

* Between this and Hanna, Ronan is becoming the go-to girl for arty movies that want to subvert genre expectations. At least there’s no Eric Bana groin in this.

* Fletcher can’t decide how he wants these people to talk. Violet and Daisy alternate talking like the most insufferably precocious teeny-boppers ever, to ‘30s gangsters (“Say, that’s a real good idea, Daze. A real good idea!”), to maybe-brain damaged.

"Get the gats so we can ventilate this yegg...Look, Hello Kitty!"

“Get the gats so we can ventilate this yegg…Look, Hello Kitty!”

* Violet and Daisy arrive at Gandolfini’s apartment on a tricycle. Yes, you read that right.

* After killing a bunch of dudes, Violet and Daisy giggle and dance on the corpses so they spit up blood. Who the fuck thinks up a scene like that? And why is it in a movie?

* Gandolfini saves the movie in his every scene.

* Amid all this smothering quirk is the suggestion that Violet was gang-raped. Because, you know, that’s a natural fit in this movie.

* About halfway through the movie it occurred to me that Fletcher might just be making the story up as he went along.

* Also, Violet and Daisy wear numbers on their sleeves that correspond to their rank in the hitman pecking order. For no apparent reason.

* In one scene, the moon is shown so close that you can see craters (which would, of course, destroy Earth).

* Toward the end of the film, there’s a catfight, because at this point what difference does it make?

So, that’s Violet & Daisy. I kind of want to punch it in the face.

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