Candid Cinema

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Violation’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation is a film that will leave you in awe of the work that was done. It is one of the most incredible revenge films I have seen. This handled trauma in a very stylistic & symbolic way. It is a very difficult watch as they both incorporated horror elements to address Miriam’s (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) trauma. The film was beautifully shot, even though some scenes were incredibly violent, they captured difficult moments in an interesting way. It is very hard to detach yourself from what is happening in certain scenes but the direction is what elevated those intimate moments.

What starts out as a domestic family drama, turns into a psychological nightmare filled with rage. It was supposed to be a weekend of relaxation and reconciliation for Miriam and Caleb (Obi Abili), as Miriam’s estranged sister, Greta (Anna MaGuire) invited them. We see the dynamic between two very different couples, Miriam and Caleb vs. Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) and Greta shift with each passing moment. Miriam and Greta have similar issues that all siblings do but Miriam’s past is slowly revealed and we see why Greta wanted nothing to do with her. Since Greta, Miriam and Dylan all went to school together, Miriam has always had a close friendship with him.

What starts out as genuine conversations between Miriam and Dylan, turns into something more. The more they interact, the more intimate their looks become and that is credited to the direction of all of the scenes shared between them. One late night, as they are the remaining two sitting around a campfire, a long night of conversation began. Making the choice to stay out there together, while they were drunk with unresolved feelings from their past, the night heads into a different direction. What started out as innocent, turns into a horrific act of sexual violence that traumatized Miriam.

Violation handles violent, sexual acts in a manner that will repulse you but also help you understand the aftermath of pain and trauma. We visually see Miriam tear herself apart because of the rage inside her towards Dylan. What she wants to do to him, versus what she does do, are two separate acts and it is shown through symbolic imagery and dreamlike sequences. It is a daring film and it will not be for everyone because of how detailed the sexual scenes are. Madeleine Sims-Fewer gives an outstanding performance and she carried the entire film. It is truly a brilliant piece of work.

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