Written by: Justine Bateman
Starring: Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey, Justin Theroux, Laura San Giacomo, Jason Dohring
The running voice in the back of our minds can serve the dual process of being our conscience speaking back to us in guiding our decision-making, but can also work as a darker, more harmful presence. Something continually forcing one to doubt themselves as seen in the unsettling Violet. A tale of a woman trying to break free from the grapple hold of this voice and the massive amount of difficulty that comes with it.
In reality, thriving as a film executive, Violet (Olivia Munn) feels nothing but the opposite because of a harmful voice (Justin Theroux) running through her head making her fear every conversation she has with others. Leaving her insecure and unsure of how to actually succeed in life, she tries to break away from it.
The upfront but relatable nature of Violet certainly leaves a mark because many watching this film must confront something that may have been plaguing them for their entire lives, a sense of doubt and fear perpetuated by an inner voice. While evidently not found in everyone, having a voice operating where even if you think to yourself, it allows you to process things. I cannot be the only one who yells at others and myself internally out of not having the capacity to do it out loud. The inner equivalent of screaming into a pillow. Now, for the case of Violet, you must imagine this voice solely serves to further degenerate her and reduce her confidence.
Violet’s issues throughout this feature can happen to anyone but having it occur with a female character with the terrorizing voice coming from a male figure does speak volumes because of the way women get viewed at a societal level in comparison to men in the workplace. Our patriarchal society has such a weird relationship with women in the workforce and the world of Holywood certainly does not serve as an exception. In normal circumstances, women in executive levels have to deal with enough self-doubt and imposter syndrome because of it being a boy’s club, but adding this voice to the back of the titular character’s mind only makes things demonstrably worse. Choosing someone like Olivia Munn to portray this character speaks waves as well because on the outside there could be a perception of this woman having it all. One, she looks like Olivia Munn but also works in such a high-level executive position with a more than decent wage. The outside appearance has all the makings for what people view as a confident person, but in the case of Violet, it could not be further from the truth. It just shows the importance of this story being told from a female perspective both on-screen, but also from a female writer/director.
Hearing this voice as part of the audience allows one to easily sympathize with her situation but so much credit must be heaped on Justin Theroux for crafting such a darkly violent voice to torment Violet. Every time it comes out, it becomes quite the unsettling audible experience due to its aggressiveness but also how it makes the titular character feel awful when she knows she isn’t. It does nothing but spew unbecoming things about her appearance and status in the world. Seemingly her own little personal gaslighter in the way it justifies the harmful actions of others as she somehow deserves it and downplays any of her achievements as if she does not deserve the attention. Theroux, through his voicework, is straight-up terrifying and the desired effect he attempts to leave on this film certainly gets felt.
With that being said, this film undoubtedly belongs to the women of the feature in both Justine Batemen and Olivia Munn. In a filmmaking sense, Batemen makes some intriguing decisions in how to present Theroux’s voice, with it appearing as text on the screen with an aggressively cursive font. Something running the risk of being distracting does the exact opposite, seeing as the space it takes up on the screen parallels how much it does in the mind of Violet as she simply tries to navigate her way through life. The bet certainly pays off along with Olivia Munn’s performance as she puts in her best-ever work here. Both capturing a sense of insecurity and adding a layer where she can hide these feelings from others works wonders in this feature. Violet easily becomes such a sympathetic figure because of how Munn pieces together this character and shows the sadness and pain this woman must endure that other people seemingly cannot comprehend.
Not every guiding voice has a positive influence as seen in the disconcerting Violet. She needs to push back and certainly, does so in uplifting moments within the film. This feature certainly gives plenty to think about on the grander scale and the moment where it can lack, it gets more than made up for in the way the story gets presented and then fully comes together. Such a wonderful showcase for Olivia Munn and a great opportunity for Batemen to get more into feature films as she impresses in what she crafts here.