What’s the worst that can happen? That’s not a question the voices inside your head will likely answer, because doing so might end the self criticism, judgment, and worry that play like a tape loop in your brain. That isn’t something studio executive Violet Calder (Olivia Munn) has figured out in the film Violet, from actor Justine Bateman in her first narrative feature as writer/directed. For 92 minutes, we watch Violet constantly second guess herself and struggle with outer submissiveness and inner chaos as she attempts to navigate her social and professional lives. It makes for awkward, uncomfortable viewing, while simultaneously making a powerful statement about how women exist in the world.

In every situation Violet is in, she is treated to a barrage of damaging negative inner dialogue from what she calls ‘the committee’. In this case it comes via voiceover of a committee of one, actor Justin Theroux, who seems to be forever in a commercial promoting toxic masculinity. Adding to that is the occasional white cursive text splashed across the screen of Violet’s inner thoughts, like “Why can’t I be fine?” or “I don’t know who I am anymore”, and things she wants to say to friends but doesn’t, like “Please don’t go” and “I need you”. Audiences witnessing a combination of the two will get a strong sense of just how much female identity can be misshapen by the patriarchy, especially in the absence of positive familial reinforcement. Bateman also offers a study in micro aggressions, and how omnipresent they are in women’s daily lives. Without a foundation of self worth, how can they be fought?

For the review in its entirety, go to AWFJ.org HERE.