When watching Violet & Daisy, I constantly found myself thinking, “Hey, this isn’t THAT bad.” That middle ground is where the film resides for most of its length. There are some pretty awesome moments, and at times it’s a lot of fun, but there are also some rough patches, poor performances and an overall feeling that a lot more could have (and should have) happened.
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) may seem like a couple of typical teens when we first meet them, but instead of getting a job at the mall for a little extra spending money, these two are working as assassins, picking off whoever they’re paid to, one bloody firefight at a time. Violet and Daisy get their assignments from their boss Russ (Danny Trejo). Complications arise when killing their next target, a man named Michael (James Gandolfini), doesn’t go quite as smoothly as expected. The problem isn’t Michael’s ability to outwit the girls, but rather his willingness to die. The fact that he requests they shoot him causes them to balk at the prospect and spend extra time in the apartment getting to know the man they’ve been paid to kill.
This is a movie that very clearly seems to be based on an idea instead of an actual story. I’d guess writer-director Geoffrey Fletcher’s thought process went something along the lines of, “What if we had these girls who acted younger than their age, but they lived on their own and shot people for a living? Plus they’d talk like Tarantino characters. Great! Now I’ve just got to find a way to turn that into a movie.”
I’ll admit that Violet & Daisy is anchored by a pretty cool idea. Assassin movies are fairly overplayed at this point, so any way to freshen up the genre is something I’m interested in. However, there’s a reason why traditional beats in the genre are used over and over again. At times in Violet & Daisy, the violence is so over-the-top that it borders on disturbing. It’s the sort of thing that works in a Tarantino movie because it’s expected. When it’s a couple of 18-year-old girls behind the slaughter, there’s certainly a shock factor there, but that isn’t always a good thing. I felt torn whilst trying to decide whether Violet & Daisy was good, fun violence or something significantly more twisted.
I’m usually a sucker for stylized dialogue, and the highlight of Violet & Daisy is easily its writing. The premise lends itself quite well to wholly unrealistic, drawn-out dialogue; though not every movie can pull off that style of writing, it works very well in a film about teen assassins. The script is completely compelling throughout, alternately adorable and terrifying, which is the ideal balance for Fletcher’s twisted story. Almost every line is delivered with near-perfection by Bledel, who shines bright as Violet and stands head and shoulders above Ronan’s Daisy.
That being said, Bledel is also helped out by having a much more interesting role to play. Violet is not quite as innocent, which works way better than Daisy’s utter naivety. The girls have nice chemistry on screen together, but the scenes where Violet is on her own definitely stand out.
Gandolfini’s performance is also impressive. He plays the kindly man so well, but that same kindness veils his willingness to look death in the eye. Gandolfini succeeds by always keeping a proper balance between the two. The scene where he explains why he is trying to get killed is simple and but remarkably haunting. He doesn’t have any fun moments of violence, and he doesn’t get to partake in the stylized dialogue, but his performance still towers above the rest.
For the most part, Violet & Daisy is mindless entertainment, which today’s industry certainly needs now and again. There doesn’t always have to be some overarching theme in a film, and every movie certainly doesn’t need to result in depressed audience members shuffling out of the theater in tears after watching someone’s soul get destroyed on screen. However, the film is also never empty-headed, The sheer entertainment value of Violet & Daisy is supplemented by thoughtful plot developments late in the story.
In Violet & Daisy‘s third act, the movie expands from its action-comedy origins into a coming-of-age story. It’s a nice change, and although it’s tricky to feel sympathy for the film’s murderous protagonists as they grow up, the shift still adds some much-needed substance.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to this Blu-Ray in terms of special features, but the set itself comes with a note from Fletcher on working with Gandolfini, which is a very nice touch. Other than that, there’s really not much to be said for it. The only special features are a theatrical trailer and a poster gallery. Definitely not worth checking out if you’ve seen Violet & Daisy and weren’t a huge fan of the movie itself.
As for the audio, well, I’m not sure if the sound mix is crummy by accident or if it’s a conscious decision, but the gun shots are deafening while the dialogue can hardly be heard at times. Nothing takes me out of a movie more than constantly having to adjust the volume so, even if it was a conscious decision, it was a bad one. The picture is beautiful though, and the film is wonderfully shot. The visuals are nearly good enough to make up for the downsides to the Blu-Ray set, but not quite.
Overall, I did enjoy Violet & Daisy, but not quite enough to wholeheartedly recommend it. The story drags in the wrong places, and the majority of the characters feel rather flat. Still, it’s a fun, cartoonish movie that’s not a bad choice for purely mindless viewing.
In terms of mostly mindless entertainment, there are far worse choices than Violet & Daisy. Then again, there are far better as well.