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Film Review: 'Violet & Daisy' works even though it shouldn't

The dark comedy "Violet & Daisy" stars Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel as two young assassins who play patty cake and dance around in between hits.

Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan play young, pop star-obsessed assassins in "Violet & Daisy" Credit: Cinedigm Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan play young, pop star-obsessed assassins in "Violet & Daisy."
Credit: Cinedigm

‘Violet & Daisy’
Director: Geoffrey Fletcher
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

“Pulp Fiction” is a year shy of two decades old, so it’s possibly OK to finally rehash one of its most famous scenes. In the opening of “Violet & Daisy,” two young friends (Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan, respectively) strut through an apartment building. Dressed inexplicably as nuns and, more inexplicably, carrying a pizza box each, they idly chat about this and that. Finally they stop in front of a door, kick it open and bust out the guns they’ve been hiding in their pizzas. Had this scene occurred in the ‘90s, when it seemed like every fifth film was a Tarantino knockoff, one would have been required to cry foul. In the 2010s, it’s more like a nice homage.

The twist of “Violet & Daisy” is that its psycho killers are young women who act even younger. When they’re not gunning down marks with a gun in each hand, the two dance around in PJs, eat cookies, obsess over a pop singer and play patty cake, with each other and even with Danny Trejo, as their mysterious contact. The joke is that the only ones who would be so blasé about gunning down people en masse are those stuck in arrested development. At one point, after mowing down some baddies, they celebrate by giddily dancing atop their fresh corpses, blood popping out of their mouths and wounds with every pounce.

They’re in need of a lesson, and they get one. Their latest job brings them to the tiny apartment of Michael (James Gandolfini), a sadsack who hijacked a supply of cologne from the wrong guy. He has pancreatic cancer and unresolved issues with his estranged daughter, and welcomes a bullet to the head, which only serves to throw our anti-heroines off their game.

What starts out as a poppy and energetic (if dimly lit) bundle of dark fun, complete with scenes opening and closing with irises and chapter titles, soon turns theatrical, with our characters settling in Michael’s apartment for a series of chats. This is a very indie way to go, but director Geoffrey Fletcher — who wrote “Precious," though don’t hold that against him — finds a way to keep it fresh and twisty. “Violet & Daisy” shouldn’t work, should be a trainwreck of crazy tones and shrunken expectations. But it just barely works, thanks in part to actors and filmmakers who keep a tightrope balance between reality and lovely artifice.

 
 
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