PANORAMA EUROPE 2014
By Don Simpson | April 17, 2014
Director: Alexandros Avranas
Writers: Alexandros Avranas, Kostas Peroulis
Starring: Themis Panou, Eleni Roussinou, Sissy Toumasi, Kalliopi Zontanou, Reni Pittaki, Chloe Bolota, Constantinos Athanasiades, Maria Skoula, Giorgos Symeonidis, Maria Kallimani, Nikos Hatzopoulos, Minas Hatzisavvas, Kostas Antalopoulos
On her 11th birthday, Angeliki (Chloe Bolota) plunges four stories to her death to the foreboding soundtrack of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” leaving her highly dysfunctional Greek family to pretend that everything is hunky dory in their household. Just as the minutely detailed and perfectly framed cinematography (Olympia Mitilinaiou) solicits a milieu of falseness, the clan’s middle-aged patriarch (Themis Panou) — referred to as “Father” by the multi-generational household — is all about keeping up appearances.
Child Protection definitely senses that something is amiss, especially since no one in the family seems to know the identity of the father of the deceased child, or the other young children in the household — Myrto (Sissy Toumasi), Filippos (Konstantinos Athanasiades) and Alkmini (Kalliopi Zontanou). All of the familiar relationships are blurred to curious extremes, though we are left to assume that Eleni (Eleni Roussinou) is the mother of all (or, at least, most) of the children. “Father” has assumed the paternal role of the children, establishing a pervasive sense of fear with physical and psychological tactics that allow him to control the family like a maniacal tyrant.
On the surface, Alexandros Avranas’ Miss Violence is about the crippling effects of domestic abuse, specifically the power of the perpetrator and the powerlessness of the prey. Miss Violence also discusses forced [child] labor and the economy of sex. Though not as surreal and absurd as the fantastically allegorical films of Giorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) and Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg), Miss Violence does echo their cinematic technique of utilizing dysfunctional families as a guise to critique the societal aftermath of Greece’s economic collapse. (In the case of Miss Violence, “Father” represents the corruption and manipulation of the borderline fascist Greek government, while the family reflects Greek society’s petrified state of complacency.) By not shrouding the narrative beneath a cloak of surrealism and absurdism, instead keeping the story somewhat closely bound to reality, Avranas inflates the superficial messages about domestic abuse, forced labor and prostitution to significantly more disturbing levels.