For Geoffrey Fletcher, this film is even more precious

June 5, 2013

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Geoffrey Fletcher smiles when “Violet & Daisy” is described to him as feeling like a strange mash-up of Tarantino and Wes Anderson.

“I love so many different genres,” Fletcher says. “I love crime films – and unusual coming-of-age pieces. I also felt that, when you combine elements not usually associated with each other, you can see things anew.”

His dark, violent comedy which he wrote and directed, casts Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel as a pair of assassins, partners in mayhem who think nothing of dressing as nuns to disguise their intentions: blasting the target they’ve been well-paid to blast.

“To have young women in this world, a lot of opportunity for convention- and genre-bending arises,” he says. “One of the important things for me was that, if I was going to have girls with guns, I wanted them to remain girls. I thought that alone would bring a lot of opportunity for exploring new realms, genre-wise.”

Fletcher cast Ronan and Bledel both because he admired their work and because they brought a visual contrast to the roles of best friends who are often dressed alike. To bring a certain weight to a piece that is often unexpectedly funny, he cast James Gandolfini as their target, the job they’ve agreed will be their last.

It’s a change-of-pace for the forceful Gandolfini, a role that’s quiet, with a certain warmth and even sweetness. It’s a part that Gandolfini sought out.

“He got a hold of the script and he actively approached us,” Fletcher says. “He was passionate about the part and deeply invested in it. It’s so different from what anyone has seen him do, as far as I know.”

Getting to direct a script of his own was what Fletcher wanted to do when he started – and the chance came after he adapted Sapphire’s novel, “Push,” for the screen as “Precious.”

“ ‘Precious’ was helpful in so many ways,” Fletcher says. “People would listen to me and read my scripts after that.”

Still, it took Fletcher a while to finish “Violet & Daisy” and get it into theaters. But no longer than necessary, he says.

“It was completed in 2012,” Fletcher notes. “A number of great distributors were interested and by the time we partnered with Cinedigm, they saw a June 2013 date as a good one for the film. To me, it doesn’t feel as though it’s been so long.”

The version of the film that screened at Toronto in 2011 was “a good cut but not a final cut,” says Fletcher, who won the Oscar for writing “Precious” in 2009. “I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve got now. What tempers my impatience is knowing that it needs to be seen properly. I’d rather have it brought out in the inspired way Cinedigm is bringing it out.”

His next project, he hopes, is a script he’s been working on about the Attica prison riot of 1971 for director Doug Liman.

“Once the script is to a place where it’s really done – and it’s getting there – then we go to the next step,” Fletcher says. “We want to do the event justice, to honor the people involved.”

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