Violet’s Visit

A "Violet Has Two Daddies" duly produced in "Afterschool Special" style, "Violet's Visit" is a seriocomedy whose good intentions are hemmed in by simplistic writing and barely routine execution. Gay fests and the odd offshore broadcast slot might nip, but uninspired effort is best suited to home-turf TV.

With:
Violet ..... Rebecca Smart Alec ..... Graham Harvey Pete ..... David Franklin Wayne ..... Caleb Packham Sharon ..... May Lloyd

A “Violet Has Two Daddies” duly produced in “Afterschool Special” style, “Violet’s Visit” is a seriocomedy whose good intentions are hemmed in by simplistic writing and barely routine execution. Gay fests and the odd offshore broadcast slot might nip, but uninspired effort is best suited to home-turf TV.

Alec (Graham Harvey) and Pete (David Franklin), a pleasant-enough pair of well-buffed, domestically partnered Sydneyites, are surprised one day to find Violet, aka “Scooter” (Rebecca Smart), on their doorstep — the previously unmet result of Alec’s long-ago heterosexual days. He’s none too pleased at this intrusion, and she isn’t too thrilled at discovering Dad is a “homo.” Yet at Pete’s insistence, the rather thin-skinned, snippy 15-year-old (who’d fled her backwater home when Mom acquired yet another live-in b.f.) is allowed to stay on a trial basis.

Faster than you can say “getting-to-know-you montage,” the trio start getting along nicely. Minor conflict ensues when Scooter’s budding teenage sexuality nurtures a crush on the couple’s pal Wayne (Caleb Packham), though he’s more interested in playing sandwich with the two men. More serious are mum Sharon’s (May Lloyd) long-distance demands that Scooter return home.

None of this escapes rote cliche, from sketching of Mom as a bitter harpy to the expected, cutesy reconciliation (at a McDonald’s, which inadvertently reflects script’s generic approach). One potentially interesting development comes when Pete, who’d at first welcomed this new “family” setup, begins feeling more put-upon than parental. He bolts the nest, and a guilt-ridden Scooter then runs away too. But these problems are resolved without any suspense or imagination.

Harvey and Franklin make a handsome, credible pair despite screenplay’s scant character depth. Smart, however, has grown from an intriguing child thesp (“Celia,” “The Shiralee”) into an unappealing near-adult one, rendering her character more irksome than sympathetically confused. New Zealand-born soph helmer Richard Turner (“Squeeze”) does nothing to infuse low-budget production with personality. Tech aspects are mediocre, synth score and various soundtracked rock tunes (“All that I am/Is what I want to be,” etc.) equally banal.

Violet's Visit

(AUSTRALIAN)

Production: A Donna Films presentation of a Spandau Films production for Open Eye Film & Television, with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission. Produced by Andrew Steuart. Executive producer, Oscar Scherl. Directed by Richard Turner. Screenplay, Barry Lowe, Andrew Creagh. Camera (color, 16mm), Edmund Milts; editor, Kathryn Fenton; music, Paul Anthony Smith; art direction, Colleen Forde; line producer, Ann Folland. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, June 16, 1997. (In S.F. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Violet ..... Rebecca Smart Alec ..... Graham Harvey Pete ..... David Franklin Wayne ..... Caleb Packham Sharon ..... May Lloyd

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