The Violators

 

starHalf



This slice of Merseyside kitchen sink fails to convince.

 
Violators, The

The spotless Lauren McQueen

 

Technically, Shelly, Andy and Jerome are step-siblings and live side-by-side in a house barely fit for human habitation. Andy likes a bit of a party and thinks nothing of keeping Jerome up at all hours, in spite of the latter’s school schedule. Shelly, 15, has given up on education completely and funds her small pleasures with a compulsive kleptomania. It’s a grim life and is hardly improved by the prospect of the prison release of their father, against whom they all testified in court. Quite frankly, they’re terrified. Meanwhile, Shelly falls foul of a variety of local characters, none of whom she can entirely trust. And while Andy drowns his sorrows in the pub, Jerome is beaten up and robbed by older youths.

 

Helen Walsh’s first feature as a director is described as “a meditation on the meaning of home and the potency and fragility of a young girl’s sexuality.” Yeah, but it doesn’t come across. The director, until now best known as a novelist, prides herself on never having been on a film set prior to her first day on The Violators. Unfortunately, it shows – she is not a natural filmmaker. And the film’s problems are manifold. Lauren McQueen is far too cosmetically perfect to be plausible as Shelly, while the more credible members of the cast are too often indecipherable. This would not have bothered Ken Loach, but he would have given us characters that breathed out of the fabric of the rundown environs (filmed in and around Merseyside). As it is, the enterprise resembles a low-grade, low-budget soap opera trading in cod realism.

 

Obviously, every film is made with the best intentions. Yet, in spite of the dedication of Walsh and her cast and crew, it’s hard to imagine who their film will appeal to.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Lauren McQueen, Brogan Ellis, Stephen Lord, Liam Ainsworth, Derek Barr, Callum King Chadwick.

 

Dir Helen Walsh, Pro David A. Hughes and David Moores, Screenplay Helen Walsh, Ph Tobin Jones, Ed Kyle Ogden, Music David A Hughes, Costumes Audrey Hughes.

 

Red Union Films-Bulldog Film Distribution 

97 mins. UK. 2015. Rel: 17 June 2016. Cert. 15.