A cinematic sight that's more style than substance, Andrew Huculiak's silver screen debut Violent leaves a long-lasting impression thanks to his assured direction and nuanced storytelling.
A catastrophic event hinted at during the opening minutes of the film sets up the story of Violent, which is ultimately centred on Dagny (Dagny Backer Johnsen), a young Norwegian girl who's seemingly unsure of the reason for her existence as she steps into adulthood. Told in five distinct acts that describe her time with the five people who loved her most (for better or worse), Violent acts as a vehicle for Dagny's musings on life, the passing of time and raw human emotions.
It's the kind of open-ended subject matter that most novice filmmakers choose to tackle but end up struggling with, but Huculiak's script never feels forced. Instead, it captures the youthful anxiety of being in your early 20s, complete with endless questions that don't seem to have answers and a calm that only comes when your mind is at ease in the early hours of the morning.
At times, it all feels a bit much, especially when Dagny and her conversations with friends never seem to end up anywhere in particular, but Violent seems more concerned with striking a mood than providing a traditional, narrative-driven movie-going experience.
Aiding it on that journey is a sweeping cinematic score from Huculiak's band, the vaguely prog-y indie rock trio We Are the City. Drawing on the synth-based soundscapes and minimalist distorted rumblings hidden underneath the band's recent LP of the same name, the film and album act like strange companion pieces that enhance one another while not being entirely essential to enjoying the experience of either.
That being said, if you're a fan of We Are the City, Huculiak's first-time feature feels like a testament to not only his strength as an up-and-coming musician, but a cinematic savant as well.