‘Violet & Daisy’: Girls with guns will blow you away

June 4, 2013


Geoffrey Fletcher’s filmmaking debut, “Violet & Daisy,” is the summer’s oddest, most original treat.

Imagine a script by Quentin Tarantino, directed by Wes Anderson – and you have an idea of just how deliciously surprising this film can be. It opens Friday (6/7/13) in limited release.

The opening scene sets the tone – or, more accurately, prepares you for the radical, head-spinning shifts in tone that this film employs. The two title characters, played by Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan, are initially seen dressed as nuns. Nuns delivering pizzas. Nuns delivering pizzas, which are a cover for the weapons they’re carrying, to shoot the guys who are expecting pizza.

Because these girls are hired assassins. Daisy may only be turning 18 (Violet is her older mentor), but they’re professionals.

But they’re also girls, obsessed with the kinds of things some girls their age are obsessed with. Violet has parental issues (and bad memories of what happened to her previous partner). Daisy, meanwhile, has secrets of her own. They agree, however, that it’s time to get out of the game and try something else.

Then, in a celebrity magazine, they discover that their favorite pop star has released a new dress in her designer line. They’re both dying to own it – but it’s so expensive that they’re willing to kill for it.

So they accept one final assignment: a guy who has apparently crossed too many of the wrong people to stay alive. They happily accept the job and head off to earn the cash for that dazzling dress.

Just one problem: The guy they are sent to kill, Michael (James Gandolfini), is actually glad to see them. He doesn’t just welcome death; he embraces it. Which throws these fatherless girls for a loop.

Because Michael is a big teddybear: quiet, thoughtful, embracing. Hell, he even bakes them cookies. They wind up engaging with him – big mistake, in terms of professional protocol.

When you engage, it puts a human face on a target, something these girls have always avoided. It’s a lot easier to put a bullet in someone’s head when you’ve never had a conversation with the person.

Though Fletcher’s script occasionally goes astray, introducing plot threads that aren’t necessarily productive, his film is never less than compelling. The story takes twists and turns – and gives us characters (these young women and especially Gandolfini) that are unexpected and, at times, delightful.

Ronan and Bledel both have a brisk, almost impermeably cheerful affect; there’s an amusing, intriguing cognitive dissonance between who they seem to be and what they do for a living. Gandolfini – thoughtful, soulful, alternately whimsical and grave – provides the film’s emotional anchor.

“Violet & Daisy” may be the most unusual film you’ll see this year. Open yourself to the experience; you won’t be sorry.

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