The Violators

The Violators by Helen Walsh, out now on DVD
Written and directed by Helen Walsh
Starring Lauren McQueen and Brogan Ellis
Out now on DVD

by Haresh Patel

The multi award-winning writer of iconographic works about female sexuality and now director Helen Walsh starts her film career in the same line as her books. If you like her kinds of drama, you’ll like this film. ‘The Brass’, her 2005 book dealt with not just sexuality and hedonism, but the kind of coming of age stories of the darker troubles of teenage life.

This film is a portrait of multiple angles of love, lust and emotional greed that, on the face of it, isn’t the usual friday night popcorn and rolling hashtagging affair. But it is worth your time on many levels.

The film is beautifully photographed and choreographed so that the audience is placed as a concerned ever-present companion on the shoulder of the lead character. Shelly, played by Lauren McQueen, descends from one kind of inter zone or social and societal purgatory, into a deeper darker lower level of hell.

It reads as a classic ‘grim up north’ tale with nods to things like rich girl poor girl, the coming of an unseen enemy, a noir-ish crossed woman, documentary-style voyeurism, the sordid manipulation by the predatory man, and the stilling love affair under difficult circumstances, this film has many layers of story lines and styles to take away.

The main character Shelly is struggling to look after her little brother Jerome. What we learn is that with her brother Andy, are somewhat under the general radar of so-called civil life. A social worker tracks them down and delivers some news that give the viewer a chance to see the characters unfolding and unraveling as they drag each other along. Shelly is the centre that the surrounding characters all circle around and toward. It feels claustrophobic, enclosed, and conveys well the tininess of the bubble of live these characters live. It feels like a film that could translate to too many cities around the UK, indeed the world, with out much need for adaptation beyond local dialect.

The entire story is told from a female perspective, with stark and unblinking observations of the males in that world. Helen Walsh makes it utterly compelling viewing not just for it’s main audience, but to any man in any corner of life at large who has women or girls in his life that he might care about. It’s about wounded women bleakly defending themselves from further hurt, from within and without. Everyone is dealing with deception and manipulation for personal gain. The actors’ natural performances, and the stark setting mean make it a noir as much as a urban moral tragedy.

It’s all wrapped up in a kitchen sink drama that’s compelling, engrossing, makes you feel concern for the characters’ dilemmas and emotional millstones.

Violators is out now on DVD.

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