Miss Violence (2013) Review

director: Alexandros Avranas

writers: Alexandros Avranas & Kostas Peroulis

starring: Themis Panou, Reni Pittaki and Eleni Roussinou

genre: Drama

released: November 7, 2013 (Greece)

Greek Art-house films lately for one reason or another have been focused on the internal family drama that is controversial, hidden and disturbing. This wave of Greek cinema has had its success, with Greek films picking up awards at international film festivals and even recognition at the Academy Awards. But not unexpectedly no real success has come of it with mainstream audiences abroad and internally within the Greek market.

story:

An impoverished Greek family in the middle of Athens has one of their youngest commit suicide. This shakes up the family less than one would expect, after we understand how the family unit is run by the eldest in the group. Slowly through the film we find out that the eldest is not only the grandfather to his grand-kids but also possibly their father.

In the home he rules with an iron hand with many rules and severe punishment through violence and molestation. However his ways may not last as long as he had hoped, with social services being close to understanding the true nature of his family unit and the effects his mental and physical torture has had upon them.

thoughts:

I've been let down numerous of times by Greek films. Both from the mainstream market and independent productions. Both sides of the Greek film spectrum have their issues and merits to them, but usually never try to please a wider variety of audience members as they should half time and rather get stuck too much in the details of their own little sandbox playground. May that be sexual comedies from the mainstream Greek market or the ad nauseum overabundance of borderline dramas that make every Greek family seem as the pit of evil and darkness.

Because of that I was afraid this film would turn out to be another "Dogtooth {Kinodontas}". A film that tries to show us a different kind of upbringing through brainwashing, manipulation and provocative imagery and words. But in the end being a very boring film for my personal taste, with many meanings that didn't reach as far as many others may have thought.

Thankfully "Miss Violence" is actually a far better directed film, more focused at telling its story and showing as much as was needed to get its point across of how a sexually molested family operates on a daily basis. This doesn't make the film inherently entertaining, but it works within the film and made me quite personally invested in the actors portrayals and their criminal and psychological maneuvers from the law and from each other in the same household.

With that I also undeniably didn't like the ending at all. It leaves all that we have seen in an ambiguous fashion that comes off to give another possible meaning that I don't think people will expect or I honestly didn't entirely understand. Was it a power play move by the grandmother, was she as diabolical as the father or was it pure revenge. I didn't think the film needed that ending, but then again that's just my opinion.

Finally, a review of mine would be pointless without a bit more of nitpicking. First with the title being in English and not in Greek. It's silly for one and second it really doesn't correlate to the story. Only if we want to conceptualize violence as being a female entity which is silly in concept. Plus the perpetrator in the film commits mostly acts of sexual molestation, which are classified also as violence sometimes (not sure on this one) and not violence in the way most people think when they hear that word. As well as the fact that the perpetrator is a man not a woman.

verdict:

Telling stories we usually don't want to know, hear or see is a risky business. You're bound to seclude a huge part of your potential audience like it or not. My complaints regarding the film aren't so much with the subject matter and if it should explored or not, but with some of the creative choices taken. As there are scenes that were better off left omitted from the film and the movie's conclusion is far too ambiguous for its own good. Nevertheless, it is still a good drama about the unseen reality of perversion in an otherwise normal looking family home and society.

Personal Rating:

review by Paul Katsaros

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