Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Miss Violence

Reviews - Miss Violence

Miss Violence

Reviewed By Stephen Pye

Miss Violence
Miss Violence
Aggeliki (Chloe Bolota) jumps from the balcony of her home on her 11th birthday to the sounds of Leonard Cohen's 'Dance Me to the End of Love'. The police and social services (Maria Skoula) investigate. It's dealt with politely - the family patriarch (Thamis Panou) is gentle and kind but he commands and defines the way the family functions. It's a tragic accident without explanation and now the family must resume an air of normality. Life carries on behind closed doors. But who's who in this normal family? The connections are confusing. Is Aggelki's mother Eleni (Eleni Roussinou) wife or daughter to the unnamed patriach. We learn that Eleni is the patriarch's daughter, the children Filippos (Konstantinos Athanasiades) and Alkmini (Kalliopi Zontanou) are Aggeliki's siblings and Myrto (SissyToumasi) is Aggeliki's aunt. It's a close family. The door closes and we see nothing. The patriarch's wife (Rami Pittaki) remains distant and disinterested.

So begins Alexandros Avranas's semaphore feature. This film is hard to watch and equally hard to review. It concerns domestic violence and abuse of the worst possible kind and is unremittingly bleak. The film is shot mainly in an Athens apartment, in washed out colours giving it an intensely claustrophobic feel. The film leaves you in no doubt from the start that something awful lurks behind the fa├žade of daily living and schooling, and by the time the full extent of the sexual abuse becomes horrifyingly apparent the viewer is as unsurprised as they are repulsed.

What I personally found the hardest part to grasp though was the the director's view that somehow the film is a metaphor for Greek society post economic crash. For me it was rather a truly horrifying film about sexual abuse and male domination, hard to watch yes, but with great acting, not least from the quiet monster of a father and grandfather played by Thamis Panou, who rightly deserved best actor from the Venice film festival.

It is not for me to question Avranas's allegorical intent, but, as far as I am concerned the film stands on it's own merits; it being a chillingly brilliant portrayal of an evil scourge which is now endemic in society . Economic hardship and the imposition of stringent austerity measures on the Greek populace do no doubt create a climate of fear in which hatred and violence are easily precipitated, but whether a morbidly dysfunctional family situation works as a vehicle to express this in film is questionable.

Sophocles wrote his Antigone in 450BC . In its opening scene we hear: "our family is doubled tripled degraded and dirty in every direction moreover we two are alone and we are girls, girls cannot force their way against men."

I can think of no finer lines, or more harrowing ones, to sum up this excellent film.

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19th Keswick Film Festival

22nd-25th February 2018


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