Violent is a debut film directed by Andrew Huculiak. Set in Norway, it is about a young woman who is about to experience a catastrophe and we see the memories of her past flash by. Huculiak is a Canadian musician first and for a debut film to be set in Norway is a daring move indeed but also one that paid off in the form of Vancouver film critics circle award and TIFF’s top ten Canadian films of that year list.
It is ironic that I bring up awards or anything material when writing about a film like this. Violent focuses on human connections and is least concerned about humans’ love for material in the physical world. When we see her memories there is nothing material that the lead character ‘Dagny’ prioritizes or emphasizes. All the short memories or stories end in silent intimate moments between two people or with Dagny herself monologuing. There is imagery of water, electricity, crevices in land, objects floating in air that act as beginning and end to all these memories. Within these memories, captured are nature, surroundings and people. Huculiak builds a consistently decent mood palette on the idea of silence after the loudest bang or an event. The score escalates and calms down, so do her memories when she realizes she is about to rest forever. At a point, the camera is floating free focusing on nothing specific just like Dagny says, “souls suspended by nothing in life”. Dagny, like everyone experiences force of life and nature to be the most violent. A long running crisis that becomes nothing in an instant just like herself. Her realization of the brief memories being her greatest comforts and the final company before she leaves the world is what is relevant.
I think now I should get to my issues here. Huculiak’s adopts established and tried techniques as far as the sometimes-handheld camera work, editing and the score. This is also applicable to the imagery which is not as interesting as I have come to expect from films over time. There are least to no live/field recordings to keep the world a little more grounded. I think I can summarize my problems by saying this is not as refreshing when it follows the “indie” formula. Huculiak even in the best of form is not close to Denis, Malick, Hsiao-hsien or even the acclaimed Norwegian filmmaker like Trier in making visually compelling mood-driven cinema.
It is a rather direct and simple meditation on loneliness held together by acceptably moody imagery and score that punctuate her fleeting sweet and sour memories.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.