Bas Devos’ first full-length film is one of the most realistic and sensitive portrayals of grief ever depicted on screen. ‘Violet’ is steady, calm, not without some emotional climaxes, but otherwise quiet in its representation of youth coming to terms with death.
15-year-old Jesse (Cesar De Sutter) witnesses the violent and unexpected death of a close friend. There are no weepy funeral scenes in ‘Violet’. There are no stirring eulogies or grandiose realizations about the meaning of life. Instead, Jesse rejoins his BMX-riding friends for adventures out in the woods. He spends time with his parents. If anything, ‘Violet’ is a look at the most difficult part of death: moving on.
‘Violet’ is effective, in part, from the way it is styled. There is very little dialogue throughout, characters only speaking when there is something to be said. In turn, Devos walks through a series of vignettes of Jesse’s life following the incident. The camera is close, intimate. There’s no hurry. Sometimes the audience just watches Jesse watch television or sit in the car. Grief is often felt in the most normal and mundane situations.
‘Violet’ is a tremendous risk for a first time filmmaker, shying away from traditional narrative structure for an altogether visual, immersive experience. It’s uncomfortable and still, and yet it thrives in a nervous energy. It’s as complex and all-consuming as grief is in day-to-day life. ‘Violet’ doesn’t end, it just fades.
The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.