Review: ‘Violet’

A novel premise is frittered away through routine execution in "Violet," veteran Canadian documeister Mary Sexton's mild first feature. Inoffensive ensemble comedy won't travel far before roosting on home broadcast turf.

A novel premise is frittered away through routine execution in “Violet,” veteran Canadian documeister Mary Sexton’s mild first feature. Inoffensive ensemble comedy won’t travel far before roosting on home broadcast turf.

Violet (Mary Walsh) isn’t looking forward to her 55th birthday — and no wonder, since that’s the age at which her parents, grandparents and husband died. News of her reprobate brother’s demise in a drunken fall further convinces her that the “family curse” means this year will be her last; bracing for the inevitable, she quits her job and refuses to leave bed for weeks on end. Nonetheless, life goes on: Gay son Carlos, a language teacher, has his head turned by an Italian visitor; daughter Ramona is planning her wedding; musician offspring Rex keeps up his skirt-chasing ways; even Violet has a suitor in crusty farm manager Rusty (Peter MacNeill). Meanwhile, “Evil” Uncle Ed and his nasty daughter scheme after Violet’s valuable rural property. Mix of whimsy, black comedy, romance and intrigue has potential, but neither Sexton’s screenplay nor her direction rises above the mediocre. Perfs and production values are OK, though both have a TV feel.

Violet

Canada

Production

An Alliance Atlantis Viva Film presentation of a Dark Flowers production. Produced by Mary Sexton. Executive producers, Jim Byrd, Charlotte Mickie, Jan Nathanson. Directed, written by Mary Sexton.

Crew

Camera (color), Ivan Gekoff; editor, Trevor Ambrose; music, Paul Steffler; production designer, Stephen Osler. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (Panorama Canada), Aug. 27, 2000. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Mary Walsh, Peter MacNeill, Andrew Younghusband, Susan Kent, Berni Stapleton, Janis Spence, Raoul Bhaneja, Barry Newhook, Jodi Richardson, Janet Michael, Maisie Rillie, Sherry White, Bryan Hennessey, Ron Hynes.
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