VIOLET & DAISY – 5/8/14

Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, released in US in 2013

Three things in the opening moments of this film immediately tag it as the most despicable of all movies: a Quentin Tarantino rip-off. But more on that in a moment. The three things were:

1.) Numbered “chapter” screens with quirky names.

2.) A teenage assassin telling a long, quirky story on her way to a hit.

3.) A quirky oldies song playing during a gunfight.

Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse [no, that’s not a typo] Ronan) are a pair of 18-year-old professional killers sent by their boss Russ (Danny Trejo, in what is basically a two-minute cameo) to get rid of a man known only as “the guy” (James Gandolfini, not dead yet). The girls quickly and predictably start to form a bond with their target, which makes the job a lot more time-consuming and dialog-heavy than they initially thought.

The whole thing sounds like a good premise, but, to paraphrase Pink, “it tries too hard, it’s a waste of my time.” This movie wants so bad to be Pulp Fiction, but forgets that Pulp Fiction was made almost 20 years ago and was, itself, made a hundred times 20 years before that.

I have to warn you – I am not a fan of Quentin Tarantino. In real life, the guy is an insufferable poser. Has he made good movies? Absolutely – Jackie Brown is one of my favorites (although it probably helps that it was based on an Elmore Leonard novel and not a QT original). My main gripe about him is that he makes the same movie using the same tired old tricks every single time – the “people talking about everyday stuff while doing something bad,” the “story shot out of sequence,” the “goofy chapter title every ten minutes”… It’s distracting, for me, to watch one of his movies knowing that HE probably watches it, chuckling proudly, saying, “Oh, this is CLASSIC Tarantino right here” every couple minutes. They’re just too self-aware.

That would all be bad enough, but his movies are just smug re-hashes of the schlock exploitation flicks of the 1960s and 70s. That’s fine – everybody likes a little sex, violence and swearing every now and again. But don’t act like it’s art. Don’t laugh at the old-fashioned zooms and sound effects as though it’s some kind of satire. If it was satire, Tarantino would make a different kind of movie eventually. But he can’t.

All this is to say that Violet & Daisy has the distinct feel of a copy of a copy – ripping off a rip-off artist is not something a movie should aspire to. It tries to be too cute for it’s own good – when Daisy is asked how she makes her money, she replies, “Making hits. Vi says it’s better than data entry.” The main characters are 18 but act 6 – they play paddy-cake, have pillow fights and do hop-scotch. There are a bunch of flashbacks, segments where characters tell long stories, and unnecessarily harsh language. There’s also a scene featuring a rotary phone with an answering machine – what time period is this again?

My advice: if you want to see a movie about “the lighter side” of professional killing, check out Grosse Pointe Blank instead.

One of the minor characters is Artie Bucco from The Sopranos.

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