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Saturday, June 21

Miss Violence or Dogtooth reloaded

If you keep a distant eye and a strong stomach, Miss Violence shall peel off in front of your eyes til the very core is bare. I believe people unfortunately need shocking, hurtful, challenging movies that shall pull them out of their comfort zones and force them to face the ugly truth. Greece, as well as any other modern society thrown in the middle of current economic crisis, has come to lose its humanity in its display of selfishness and corruption. Beyond the unpleasant and uncomfortable subject, Miss Violence feels like a desperate cry for a role model that could be either self-ignited or mirrored in the world around. Evil is clothed in the most average and common attire possible, breathing next to us, in the faces of every decent person that greets us in the morning or politely offers his seat in the bus. If you have a hard time believing it or simply haven't given up on the optimistic outcome of humanity, take a deep breath and watch Miss Violence.

Picture a nice apartment, a large family, a cosy bourgeois air to a place that resembles a little doll house. The family gathers around to celebrate one of the girls' eleventh anniversary, the father gracefully waltzes the birthday girl around the room on the music of Leonard Cohen, and while they all get ready to taste the lovely cake, the girl climbs the edge of the balcony and jumps. Such a tragedy would leave its painful mark upon all members of the family. Instead, the protective head of the family -both father and grandfather- hurries all members up to erase any trace of the suicidal girl and put the whole mess behind them. Things turn from suspicious to tense, and the viewers are appalled at their own imagination and whatever happens behind closed doors. The pace is quite linear until a striking moment of violence when you feel your inner parts shudder and you are tempted to shut it all down. Still, something keeps you from doing so -either the burning curiosity or the fact that it is almost the end of the picture- and you are left wondering what more there is to be revealed.

The movie instantly reminded me of Dogtooth and the strange, restless feeling I had while watching it. There are several similarities such as the abusive father and the mute, non-responsive members of the family. The strangeness of the place and the unnatural pace of the whole unfolding of events also feels familiar. Still, this no longer is a sordid experiment meant to test the limits of the the human mind and body and to keep offsprings safe. Sexual abuse is beyond justification and comprehension. Also, in Dogtooth, evil was kept away from the eyes of the real world, as if it was a place apart, out of time. In Miss Violence, doors have been taken down and immoral practices take place in the most unexpected circumstances. The head of the family in Dogtooth offered no explanation for his behaviour, whereas money is the reason behind the abuse in Miss Violence. The rest of the sane world -the social services employees or the teacher from school- turns a blind inefficient eye to the strangeness of the family as if too afraid to follow their instinct. Within the family, abusers are victims and the vicious circle of pain seems endless. Turning eleven is no reason to feel happy about it but rather a huge wake-up slap in the face. Ugliness, perversion and abuse hide behind the visible kindness of average life and apparently, there is no escape from it. Apparently.....Could a closed door lead to hope or is it meant to perpetuate hell?

It was hard for me to focus on the performances of the actors. The subject itself was hard to handle and highly disturbing. The actors played their parts in a convincing manner, so natural that it felt straightforward. Still, whenever I get to watch a movie with child characters involved in delicate situations, I cannot help wondering about the parents willing to put their children through such experiences at such a young age. The only thing that helped me distance from the dreadful topic was the core subject of the movie for which the story was used as a pretext: the degradation of the Greek society and the obvious loss of humanity and its governing principles. Families are nothing but small universes that are only a mirror of the society they are part of. The rotten core of the family is a symbol for the inner corruption that lies at the heart of the society and Miss Violence is a reflection of outer evil within the family micro universe.

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