Depending on our age, we all know Justine Bateman from somewhere. Whether it be next to Michael J. Fox in ‘Family Ties‘ or guest starring in everything from ‘Desperate Housewives‘ to ‘Arrested Development‘. Turns out this familiar face also has a knack for filmmaking, as her feature film debut ‘Violet‘ is released to the world.
Violet (Olivia Munn) works as a film executive with a steadily growing reputation in Hollywood. Yet at every turn she is met with a lack of respect from her employees and peers, a boss that enjoys keeping her under his thumb and worst of all … an inner saboteur controlling her every move.
Bateman has written and directed an extremely relatable story. Whether we do it consciously or not, we all have that voice inside of us that tells us to do something, or to hold back when it’s expected of us. We all adhere to a social structure that isn’t always designed to be in our best interest. When we dare to go against expectations, we fear the backlash and often fall back in line. To go by unnoticed. To be safe.
Munn’s strong central performance really anchors the film. It often feels like Bateman is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us to make sure the message sticks, and frankly it’s borderline overkill. Violet’s subconscious gets a male voice over and text overlays to convey that what she shows the outside world goes against every grain of her being. There are moments when it works and scenes where you wish that element was dialed down a little.
Despite one too many distracting visual flourishes, ‘Violet‘ is an uplifting and inspiring look at overcoming the self-doubt that stifles us. Oh, and Olivia Munn is aces.
Reviewed on September 11, 2021 at Toronto International Film Festival. Rating: MA15+. Running time: 93 min.
PRODUCTION: A Relativity Media release of a SECTION 5 production. Producers: Justine Bateman (p.g.a.), Larry Hummel, Michael D Jones, Matt Paul. Executive producers: Cassian Elwes, Anders Liljeblad, Matt Lituchy, Jay Paul, Rob Rubano, Jonathan Schurgin.
CREW: Director/writer: Justine Bateman. Editing: Jay Friedkin. Music: Vum. Cinematography: Mark Williams.
CAST: Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey, Justin Theroux, Dennis Boutsikaris, Erica Ash, Zachary Gordon, Todd Stashwick, Bonnie Bedelia, Peter Jacobson, Jim O’Heir.