Oscar-winning “Precious” screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher’s “Violet & Daisy” (not based on the novel by Sapphire) is an insouciant mess filled with eccentric and ambitious moments, the kind of first feature that the industry at large had room to encourage: an Oscar-winner making a dream project that sounds like it could readily become a nightmare for all concerned. Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan play teen assassins making cash on the side for fancy clothes, taking murder assignments from Danny Trejo. (Their specialty is the “internal bleeding dance,” don’t ask.) Coming-of-age meets taking of life to absurd effect: this is a movie-movie world almost unrecognizably different from our own. And it’s not an outlaw couple film, per se: it’s the opposite of a road movie, a single-set three-hander for the most part. As their latest mark, James Gandolfini talks a streak in hopes of the pair following through on their job. Ronan’s self-possession is still in evidence, but her Daisy is not as much fun as her cold-hearted killer in “Hanna.” Bledel and Ronan’s banter together does float and float, then jab. Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 in a ninety-six-minute cut, it’s hard to see how the excised eight minutes could have made “Violet & Daisy” stranger. The closing shot is cartoony simplicity, like a kiss blown to the rest of the wild mélange that came before. Notably, the lean lines of Vanja Cernjul’s cinematography and the crackerjack production design by Patrizia Von Brandenstein (“Amadeus”) class up the joint. With Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Cody Horn. 88m. (Ray Pride)
“Violet & Daisy” opens Friday at 600 North Michigan. The trailer below suggests what you’re in for.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic, editor of Movie City News and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Check a few signs on Twitter (@chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram (instagram.com/raypride). Twitter: @RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)