Violet. 2014. Belgium/Netherlands. Directed by Bas Devos. In Flemish; English subtitles. 82 min.
The muted but harrowing tone of Violet emerges in the prologue, as closed-circuit monitors impassively display the stabbing death of a teenager at a mall. The victim’s friend Jesse (Cesar De Sutter), unable to intervene, is the lone witness to the murder. Between attending black-metal concerts and prowling the suburban sprawl with his BMX biker gang, Jesse grapples with the aftermath of the crime within his community. Favoring exquisitely fluid compositions and telling silences over dialogue, writer-director Bas Devos’s feature debut has a profoundly uneasy yet entrancing atmosphere, punctuated with bursts of online imagery and a meticulous, startling soundtrack. Reminiscent of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park in its minimalist portrayal of aimless, maladjusted youth, Violet is a continually surprising exploration of pain and guilt, an interior voyage that only grows tenser and more affecting as it arrives at darker, less comprehensible regions of the soul. DCP.