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.