Violet

85 minutes 2014

In the opening sequence of this Dutch-Belgian drama (2014), a bank of security monitors in a shopping mall captures the teenage protagonist (C├ęsar De Sutter) standing frozen in fear as his best friend is stabbed to death by another kid. Writer-director Bas Devos, making his feature debut following a series of shorts, processes the psychological aftermath of this cowardice, his hushed and largely nonverbal story playing like a speed-bike variation on the Dogme 95 movies with their ruthless moral interrogation. The sober theme is juiced up with some impressive formal gambits: a blurry image of young heads, bobbing to speed metal under a strobe light, that resolves over several minutes into a sharp close-up of the hero; an elaborate point-of-view shot in which the teen, hiding in the darkness, watches a little drama play out across the lit rooms of a ranch-style house. But these begin to seem more like filler as the story draws to a close and Devos declines to provide any clear resolution to the boy's crisis. In Flemish and Dutch with subtitles.

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