TIFF 2021: Violet dir. Justine Bateman

With her feature debut, writer/director Justine Bateman delivers an oppressive but ultimately rewarding emotional powerhouse that brings the everyday inner monologue and life struggle that each of us experience to the screen. In this case, it’s Olivia Munn’s Violet, a film producer, who has for too long sacrificed her own wellness, and life to the citicising voice in her head.

Instead of doing what she wants, pursuing her dreams, her inner ‘superior’ voice (Justin Theroux) keeps her in fear.

Everyone has this, whether we admit to it or not, but it’s important that for this film, it’s a female character. Violet works in a male dominated business, a sexist white male dominated business, and consequently she’s had to tow the company line, pass up her own passions, go along to get along, and the film’s frantic imagery, especially at the outset reflects that mindset.

But what if we follow the things that free us, those moments of joy that that the fear argues against?

The screen is a virtual canvas in this film, as her oppressive thoughts fight to keep her line with what she thinks should be her career, her friends, her family, while a handwritten script imposes itself on the image stating what she really wants, signifiying the struggle within.

Emotionally resonant and featuring a great, strong, and raw performance from Munn, there are aspects to this film that we can all relate to, and perhaps it will allow us to see those around us better as well. An incredible debut from Bateman and one that will be talked about.

Violet screens this evening at TIFF as well as having a digital screening Tuesday. Not to be missed.

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