Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Canadian premiere of Violent, directed by Andrew Huculiak. My first reaction was that it was hard to believe it was a directorial debut; the pacing, cinematography and writing all seem so natural and poetically beautiful. Fellow Vancouverites may recognize Andrew for his work as the drummer for We Are the City. The band provided the soundtrack for the film; it sounds like an ambient, instrumental version of their most recent album, which was written at the same time as the film and shares its name. In fact, Violent originally started as an idea for a music video.
One thing you need to know about Violent is that it’s based in Norway, and the majority of the film is in Norwegian. To prepare for filming, the 5-person crew watched Scandinavian films once a week and learned to speak Norwegian with PowerPoint presentations. Incredibly, they cast the film, location-scouted and filmed in the space of a month-long trip to Bergen.
The film itself is split into five chapters focused on five secondary characters and their relationships with a young woman named Dagny. These chapters are separated by abstract, dream-like sequences where people, furniture and whole houses float in the air while Dagny repeats “It feels like water. It feels like electricity. It sounds like a humming fridge,” a mantra that is explained in the last moments of the film. The story arches so beautifully, and the depth of the characters unfolds so satisfyingly, that Violent is a film that I can’t quite sum up in one phrase or sentence but I seriously recommend to you.
Violent is showing once more as part of VIFF, on October 10 at SFU Woodward’s.