Violation is a cottage-country-Canada twist on the rape-revenge film, which explores consent and the limits of revenge. Keep up to date with our TIFF ’20 coverage.
Madeleine Sims-Fewer Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation is a cottage-country-Canada twist on the rape-revenge genre, which explores how men might project consent onto a sexual partner, and questions the limits of revenge. When Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fever) visits her estranged sister, Greta (Anna Maguire), at the family cottage, both with husbands in tow, tensions rise between the foursome, despite, or perhaps because, of the bucolic, isolated setting. The one person Miriam doesn’t seem to have baggage with is Greta’s husband, Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), a childhood friend with whom she shares a slightly-too-flirtatious rapport, while putting him down to her sister at every opportunity, possibly jealous of their connection.
The film flashes back and forth between that weekend getaway and the present tense, when Miriam has invited Dylan back to the cottage for what he assumes is an assignation to revisit whatever happened that weekend away. She made a move, which he rejected, but then something happened, which is revealed gradually in flashbacks. They both profess to not being able to stop thinking about it. But by the way Dylan narrativizes it entirely from his perspective — he was turned on; he was hard — and has to be prompted by Miriam to reveal how she was responding, we suspect that Dylan’s perspective is skewed, if not entirely delusional. The film is at its best when trying to excavate the weekend’s events, their perspectives, and the lies they’ve been telling each other and themselves.
Unfortunately, as soon as Violation becomes about Miriam taking her revenge on Dylan in gruesome detail, it loses steam. While watching her deal with the consequences of her choices, the film asks us to question if the punishment fits the crime, and obviously, it doesn’t. On the other hand, there is also some unfinished business between Dylan and Miriam so maybe she ‘allowed’ him to hurt her so she’d have an excuse to hurt him. Unfortunately, the film is more interested in macros of insects in nature, timeline jumps, and blood to really get into the more psychological aspects.
Throughout Violation, I found myself thinking a lot about Alice Lowe’s Prevenge, a far superior revenge film in which a pregnant woman kills all the people responsible for her husband’s death, at what she thinks is her fetus’s behest, only to have to deal with how she is herself responsible. That film is a much more thoughtful and complex deconstruction of the revenge movie, especially as it uses the format to explore not just grief but the way pregnancy messes with your body and your mind.
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