Olivia Munn stars in Justine Bateman's feature film "Violet" which debuted at SXSW Film Festival 2021.

Justine Bateman’s Film ‘Violet’ Explores The Voice in your Head

We’ve all had those negative thoughts in our head. You know the ones. They judge. They second guess your gut. They’re mean

Writer/director Justine Bateman’s feature film Violet held its world premiere at South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival 2021. Violet explores these negative thoughts, or as the main protagonist calls them “The Committee,” but for simplicity in this article, I’ll refer to it as “The Voice.”

Summary of Violet

Violet, a film development executive, realizes that “guiding voice” inside her head has been lying to her about everything.

About writer/director Justine Bateman

Justine Bateman is a writer/director/producer/actress from New York. She has worked on many projects such as Family Ties, Arrested Development, Five Minutes, and more. Bateman has been nominated for a Golden Globe and two Emmys and holds a degree from UCLA in Computer Science and Digital Media Management. She is also the sister of actor Jason Bateman. 

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.

Read our review of Violet

We can relate to having The Voice

We’re our own worst enemies, right? At least that’s what I always hear. Those inner thoughts we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t have done that or we should’ve done better at X or Y. But this goes beyond criticism. The Voice is toxically demeaning. Early in the film, we see a scene of Violet speaking to her friend Lila about her frustrations. Lila wisely responds, “Maybe you’ve cast yourself in a role you don’t want to play anymore.” Violet explores how to navigate The Voice.

Olivia Munn pulls off an empathetic performance

I admit I’m a fairly new fan of Olivia Munn’s. I first saw her in the 2016 film X-Men: Apocalypse when she starred as the badass Psylocke, and when I first discovered she would lead Violet, I knew I had to watch this film! Munn pulls off an empathetic performance. Her facial expressions to communicate the thoughts to the audience that were written in white text on screen were flawless. Munn demonstrates the honesty and rawness of her character’s vulnerability and strengths while she’s searching for herself.

In the Q&A panel, Olivia Munn stated that “I loved the story of showing someone who is really struggling with the duality of what they present to the world and what’s happening inside their own head… We look it as a duality, but at the end, it’s really just one presentation. It crashes together.”

Interesting creative decisions 

To represent Olivia’s true thoughts that combat The Voice, white cursive text appears on screen in big bold letters. I thought it was a neat way to format those thoughts in a visual manner since there’s already an overpowering narration of The Voice. 

For situations of conflict or discomfort, the screen exhibits a light red tint that gradually gets redder and redder, which I found incredibly disconcerting but this creative decision worked in their respective situations.

Lastly, we would see cuts of decaying images to also emphasize anxiety, fear, discomfort. In the Q&A panel, Justine Bateman stated that “I did want to make it more of an experience for the viewer. I wanted it to be more like a coat they could put on… I tried to layer it with audio and visual pieces that would make it a little more immersive for others.”

Concluding Thoughts

I’m curious to see what Justine Bateman does next. This film was highly ambitiously in its creative decisions and I applaud Bateman for pushing the envelope and doing something different. Violet is a must-watch!

Read more of ChinLin’s articles.

Check out more SXSW coverage.

Learn more about the Violet film on Imdb.

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Featured image credit: SECTION5

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