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The Violators - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
The Violators
SIFF's capsule summary: "A teenaged girl struggling to support her siblings in a dingy British housing project gets the news that her abusive father is about to be paroled in this gritty tale of adolescence evoking the teen narratives of Andrea Arnold and Pawel Pawlikowski." (UK, 2015, 97 minutes, Helen Walsh)
SIFF link: The Violators

Teenager Shelly (Lauren McQueen) cares for her adult brother Andy (Derek Barr) and younger brother Jerome (Callum King Chadwick), worrying about the possibility of parole of their dangerous and abusive father. Pawn shop owner Mikey (Stephen Lord) takes an unhealthy interest in her. Late-teen Rachel (Brogan Ellis) seems to be watching over her, though it's not clear whether she's a stalker or a protector.

4 Lackluster The first problem with this film is the sound. For one thing, the UK accents are often thick enough that they should have subtitles for US audiences (and possibly for UK audiences in other regions). For another, the sound isn't always mixed well enough to make the dialog clear.

The second problem is that the film had a number of tracking shots that needed a steady-cam (or something comparable), but lacked it. A bouncy camera gives some audience members vertigo, and tends to annoy even those who don't get dizzy from it.

A third problem is that the story (by writer-director Helen Walsh) fails to reveal enough about the mystery of Rachel's interest in Shelly until a sudden ending. It feels like the third quarter of the plot is missing; there's no gap in the chain of events, but there is a gap in what the film has revealed to the audience.

On the other hand, Shelly is a very strong, well-developed character, and the acting is solid throughout. Most UK films featuring desperate working class settings center around violent male characters, and the focus on a young woman trying to survive a difficult situation is a worthwhile twist. Still, the story would have benefited a lot from a few more drafts.

Overall, I rate the film lackluster.

Languages: English (with some very thick accents)

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "R", due to moderate violence and a troubling sex scene.

Screening: noon, Pacific Place (room 11).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, I'd guess fewer than 100, in about 400 seats.

Snacks: tea from home.

Ads: none at press screenings; SIFF volunteers provide announcements.

Notes to myself:

SIFF statistics: 2 films (both features), 2 time slots, no parties. ("J": same.)

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