Academy-Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher brings us his directorial debut with “Violet and Daisy.” The “Precious” screenwriter mixes in different artistic styles for his new film that work to entertain at times but don’t exactly mesh together very well. “Violet and Daisy” can only be described as interestingly bizarre as Fletcher works to try and balance his characters with a creative direction that doesn’t quite find work.
Anyone watching Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel in a film together will slap their forehead and wonder why no one’s thought of putting them in a movie together before. The two actresses play Daisy and Violet, respectively, normal young adults who seem average by the looks of them, but are really assassins in disguise. Both girls are quirky, Violet more of the older-sister figure to Daisy, who still has a sense of innocence and fragility.
The two assassins (and really, they seem so un-assassin-like that using that word to describe them is odd) run into some trouble when they’re sent to kill a man they dub Mister (James Gandolfini) and wind up befriending him instead once they realize that he’s been expecting them. Gandolfini is accepting of the fact that they’ve come to finish him off. Caught in the middle of a should they/shouldn’t they scenario, Mister is awaiting another set of assassins to also end his life.
What’s mostly intriguing about this film is the father/daughter relationship between Gandolfini and Ronan. There’s something tender and a little heartwarming about watching them onscreen. Bledel as Violet is the generally proverbial outcast and outward tough girl who doesn’t care to get close to anyone involved in a hit job (or anyone besides Daisy at least), claiming she’s “never really talked to a job before”. Bledel plays her character well enough, but doesn’t quite get as much to work with.
Although between the three characters, Gandolfini is the only sympathetic one, his performance an inspiring and layered portrayal of a man who’s in too much anguish and doesn’t have the will to live anymore. He’s kind and easygoing with both girls and Violet, while not having a close relationship with him, eventually warms up to him. Especially since she knows that Daisy has come to really care for him. This aspect is one of the most watchable parts of the entire film.
I do respect Fletcher’s artistic vision even though the movie didn’t really give us anything
except for a few random laughs. But absurdity may have been what he was going for. Numbering each segment to summarize what the audience is about to get in the following scenes is well done and slightly off putting at the same time. The film itself borders between modern and classic style, right down to the way Violet and Daisy speak, which is a cross between a southern drawl and ’50s-style lingo such as the use of the word “swell”.
While it does have a few funny moments, the film is sometimes too slow and does drag on in a few places. Some flashbacks and certain edited moments are subpar at best and it isn’t quite clear what Fletcher is going for or trying to create exactly. It’s only clear that we are to believe that Violet and Daisy are completely normal
girls who are crazy for a singer named Barbie Sunday and are somehow comfortable killing people in cold blood. At least Fletcher knows how to throw off his audience even if the result ends up falling a little flat.
“Violet and Daisy” is an awkwardly put together film with not much going for it except for its sometimes funny and bizarre moments between the cast and certain scenarios they find themselves in. There are no epiphanies to be had and you won’t feel completely engaged in the story either. It might leave you raising your eyebrows and scratching your head in wonder over what’s going on and somehow, I don’t think that’s what Fletcher ultimately intended.