Review: ‘Miss Violence’ is a challenging portrayal of abuse Special

Posted Sep 16, 2013 by Sarah Gopaul
In ‘Miss Violence,’ a young girl jumps to her death on her 11th birthday. But the family’s irregular reaction to her “accident” draws suspicion from observers.
There are movies that take the bold responsibility of tackling difficult subjects. They are equally difficult to watch, but an effective way of shedding light on these otherwise hidden stories. Though people may be tempted to frame this story in the context of Greece’s debt crisis, it's important to remember Miss Violence is about power not about money.
On her 11th birthday, Angeliki commits suicide. When police question the family, they claim to have noticed no change in behavior prior to her death and seem convinced it was an accident. When social services visit to assess the home, they find all evidence of her existence removed and the family unaffected by her absence. But there are many secrets hidden in their closets, some of which may have been worth dying for.
This is a horrific tale of abuse that can evoke opposing reactions in the same viewer. It should be commended for exposing these cruelties – real and metaphorical; but it can be simultaneously disliked for the events it portrays on screen. There is eventually a point in the movie that inspires nothing but rage at the narrative for the helplessness it arouses in the audience and the compliance of the characters.
Themis Panou makes a bold choice to portray the monstrous father in this picture. The film only gradually reveals the extent of the abuse being wielded in this home, escalating from intense control and manipulation by the father to the unthinkable. On the surface, he is vying for father of the year, supporting his unwed daughter and her children. But he is far from earning any parenting commendations. He uses fear and rewards to dominate and rule the household to the extent that he can make them do anything.
Though the film is Greek, this is not a tale restricted to that country. It is a shockingly candid and sadly universal portrait of indescribable exploitation that happens to be Greek.
Miss Violence screened as part of the City to City programme during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Director: Alexandros Avranas
Starring: Themis Panou, Eleni Roussinou and Kalliopi Zontanou