Miss Violence (2013)

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

On her eleventh birthday a young girl jumps to her death from the balcony of the small flat she shares with her extended family. In the aftermath the families dark secrets bubble to the surface.

Greek cinema has undergone a real resurgence in recent years, with the excellent “Dogtooth” being joined by such well-received counterparts such as “Attenberg”, “Knifer”, “Wasted Youth”, and “Strella”. It is a country that despite, or perhaps because of, it’s recent troubles, is developing a a film-making movement of increasing confidence, no longer mocking itself with movies such as “Attack of the Giant Moussaka”. Alexander Avranas’ “Miss Violence” sits very squarely in this new, adult approach to cinema, a film that takes itself incredibly seriously and demands it’s audience do the same.
Although the film does seem to place a mystery at it’s centre (“what made this girl jump to her death?”) it is fairly obvious where this is all going from very early on; down a difficult and depressing road that most would rather not travel. As the specifics become more apparent, the film becomes ever more uncomfortable to watch, quite an achievement for a film that inspires intense uneasiness from it’s very first second.
Set primarily in one tiny, overcrowded apartment, Avranas does a great job of mixing the claustrophobia of the situation with genuine style. Shots are cleverly framed, with point-of-view scenes and recurring motifs; but the direction is never showy or ostentatious, relying on stripped down minimalism as much as camera trickery.
While well-made and well-acted, it is an incredibly tough watch; leaving you wondering at times what exactly the point of all this is. A subtext regarding figures of power taking advantage of acquiescent subordinates is a possible justification that gains more power when considering the recent history of film’s country of origin; but despite how well done everything is you can’t help you’ve seen this done before and better, most notably in Vinterberg’s “Festen” and Roth’s “The War Zone”. Of course, that cannot be a criticism in isolation, and taken on it’s own merits “Miss Violence” is undoubtedly effective, extremely troubling and powerfully sobering.

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