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Miss Violence (2013) | Review

Miss Violence starts with potential but devolves into gratuitous shock value, lacking the subtlety and depth needed for its disturbing themes. The result is a disappointing and irritating experience.
Miss Violence (2013)

MOVIE REVIEWS

Miss Violence (2013)
Directed by Alexandros Avranas

A family portrait where a tyrannical father brutalizes his relatives, organizing their daily existence with rituals and conventions that cement their bonds and root each member within the domestic walls, without the possibility of escape or breathing any air other than that administered by him.

Miss Violence did not appeal to me. In fact, it made me furious. The dynamics of the family setup become clear within the first ten minutes, and for the remaining 80, the story drags on inconclusively, merely reiterating a concept already understood by the audience. The direction successfully disturbs us, placing the viewer in a voyeuristic perspective, with the camera often positioned at the thresholds of rooms where things happen without ever showing them. Up to this point, I appreciated the film’s attempt to disturb through subtlety, the hinted at, the gray and sad dinner tables, the meals eaten without sharing. However, towards the end, the director realizes his limitations: he lacks the elegance and imagination of a Lanthimos (the film comes so close to Dogtooth that it borders on plagiarism) and must conclude a series of situations that have accumulated like bricks without mortar, without structure. He then chooses the easiest path, not once but twice: two unnecessarily didactic, morbid sequences where violence serves no other purpose than exhibitionism for its own sake, retaining the power to shock and conclude the narrative, allowing the director to escape a dead-end in which he has spent the rest of the film writhing. No reflection, no analysis, no interpretation, just brazen and degrading morbidity, despite the good quality of the direction and more than competent acting. Whatever concept might have existed fades in two sequences that left a bitter taste in my mouth.

The director failed to maintain the course he set at the beginning and opted for sordid and gratuitous didacticism. That was disappointing and irritating.

Some thoughts with SPOILERS:

The film closely follows the narrative line of Dogtooth, released four years earlier: Avranas borrows from Lanthimos the closed family, the system of domestic rewards for achieved goals, even the dance scene, but he lacks the inventiveness, evident by the absence of elements like toy airplanes, escaped brothers, or the satisfaction of natural needs through an external agent. All these elements, which make Dogtooth a masterpiece, are missing here, replaced by a parent/tyrant in a series of grotesque situations serving no purpose. When it becomes clear that the family’s subsistence also involves prostituting his own daughter, the film seems to find a defined soul, and the sequence in which Angeliki, the eldest and mother of the others, is taken to a friend’s house is well-done, living on hints and unspoken words that suggest the father’s squalor and abjection. But from then on, the work becomes redundant, leading to the two incriminated sequences. What’s the point of emphasizing something we’ve already perfectly understood with a sequence where a fourteen-year-old girl is anally raped by two men and then, as the cherry on top, also violated by her own father? To me, it was a clear display of crass exhibitionism, knowing that such a scene would be talked about even before the film’s release, acting as promotional fuel. And then, it repeats with the granddaughter, a child. You show me that he takes her to a pedophile friend, okay. You show me the child reluctantly dancing, presaging something wrong, not functional, okay again. But then you show me the child being dragged into a room by the pedophile and disappearing behind a closed door, but that’s not enough, you have to expose the aftermath, a desperate child calling out to a mother lying on a couch, unable to name something she shouldn’t even have imagined. No, I don’t accept it. There’s no aesthetics, no reflection, just the desire to spit in the audience’s face. Which you can do, sure, but you can do it if you’re Pasolini with Salò, where the violence is supported by conceptual and metaphorical bases that justify the excesses. Done this way, it’s just vulgar exhibitionism, the cunning unscrupulousness of someone with one eye on the camera and one on the box office, already thinking of the promotional buzz to fill theaters. The SCANDAL FILM. But the only scandalous thing I found here were the choices of a director who, incapable of holding steady, chose the easiest path, perhaps thought out from the beginning.

Miss Violence portrays a family dominated by a tyrannical father, but its potential is squandered in morbid exhibitionism. Despite some disturbing direction and competent acting, the film fails to maintain the subtlety and elegance of works like Dogtooth, opting instead for gratuitous shock value that detracts from any deeper reflection or analysis. The result is a disappointing and irritating experience that leaves a bitter taste.

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