Oof. The first real stinker of SXSW 2021 has landed. “Violet,” the feature film directorial debut from Justine Bateman (who also wrote the script), is one of the most insufferable movies I’ve ever had to sit through. It’s irritatingly experimental, poorly directed, and an all-around misstep in compelling filmmaking.
Violet (Olivia Munn) is a film development executive. Her life is burdened by a “guiding voice” inside her head that supplies a constant, negative narrative about everything in her life. The voice (Justin Theroux) is relentless, calling her a piece of crap, fat, and a loser at almost every turn. Because of this, Violet is saddled with an extraordinary amount of self-doubt and makes fear-based decisions that aren’t grounded in reality. She doesn’t know that her inner voice is lying to her about everything, but she will soon realize it and take steps to change her life for the better.
This is a film about about learning to become your true self, and it’s just something to which I (thankfully) cannot relate. Maybe if you’re a person who constantly doubts yourself and feel like you’re a failure, this film will speak to you on a deeper level. To me, the execution of the premise was just too obnoxious to have the desired emotional effect. Violet is an unappealing character, and the people she surrounds herself with are even worse. When she finally breaks free, it doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment.
I get the feeling that I may have the unpopular opinion on this one, but almost everything about “Violet” turned me off, starting with the opening credits. The only bright spot in this disastrous misstep is Munn’s performance, but it gets lost beneath all the extraneous commotion.