Violation (2020)

Director: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Writer: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 1.10.2021

Content Note: rape

A while ago, Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) and her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) spent some time with Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and Greta’s husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) whom Miriam has known since they were kids. The relationship between the sisters hasn’t always been easy and the meeting between them is supposed to be a fresh start. Since things between Miriam and Caleb have been icy for a while, Miriam also hopes for a fresh start with him as well. But things turn out quite differently for Miriam, leaving her shaken to her core and desperate.

Violation is not an easy film. It’s not easily digested and it works better on an intellectual level than on an entertainment level. But that’s kind of the point as it questions how rape-revenge movies usually work.

The film poster showing Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) screaming in the rain.

Violation is a film where a woman sets out to avenge her rape by making her rapist pay (bloodily). As such, it fits all the criteria of a rape-revenge movie. Except that those films usually live off the satisfaction we get watching the women strike back. It’s freeing, it’s satisfying and there is an element of lust and fun in it.

Violation takes all the fun and all the lust out of the revenge. Miriam’s vengeance is an act of desperation, because she doesn’t feel that she has any other options to address what happened to her. It’s exhausting to watch, but it’s the film’s strength as it effectively makes us question why rape-revenge movies are so important to us, culturally.

Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) and Greta (Anna Maguire) wrestling in the water while sitting on the shoulders of their husbands.

But the film isn’t all dire. It does have freeing moments. But ultimately those have nothing to do with the vengeance. That’s not what’s healing. It’s healing when Miriam reconnects with Greta, when they find a way to deal with each other in respect.

The rape scene is also extremely well shot, leaving room for seeing things through the rapist’s eyes that he really misconstrued the situation and didn’t mean it, but nevertheless never leaving an inch of doubt that what happened was rape. Narratively, it also gains complexity by showing how Miriam herself crosses quite a few lines sexually right after – her first act of desperation (not that that makes it even remotely okay).

The film does have a couple of issues, above all its ending that just came way too abruptly. It also has lengths, but that was kind of the point here: we’re not supposed to be entertained by it, we’re supposed to get ground down by desperation along with Miriam. That works perfectly and makes the film a really interesting bit that we need to chew over for a while afterwards.

Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) kneeling in front of Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) who is blindfolded.

Summarizing: Really strong.

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