As a critic, when I judge a film, I focus primarily on its storytelling more than anything else. Tell a good story, and audiences will forgive most of a film’s shortcomings. Tell a bold narrative, and you earn bonus points. In the indie world, it doesn’t get much bolder than writer-director Allen Wolf’s The Sound of Violet. Think of it as a more serious take on Pretty Woman, give it a Lifetime/Harlequinn-vibe, keep it a rom-com, all while addressing controversial issues like Autism and human trafficking. Then, add a hint of faith for some flavor, and we’re ready to go. Let’s dive in.
The Sound of Violet is about Shawn (Carson Thomas), who is looking for love. His problem is that he has high functioning autism and is currently being exploited for his coding brilliance while also being marginalized for his condition. Shawn works as a programmer for a dating app, and his boss is a grade-A douche. The company is a cesspool of misogyny, but the young man is oblivious to the constant stream of microaggressions fired in his direction. As the weekend approaches, Shawn’s boss gives in and lets him attend the weekly “pimps and hos” party.
“…the deeply religious Ruth only sees a prostitute, while Shawn sees Violet’s potential for redemption.”
At the party, Shawn meets Violet (Cora Cleary), who is one of the dozen callgirls supplied by Anton (Michael E. Bell), her pimp. Shawn is smitten, and Violet is the only girl at the party who is willing to talk to him. The two agree to go out on a “date,” but Shawn mistakenly misinterprets the “date” as an actual date.
After realizing the misunderstanding, Violet quickly ends it but allows Shawn to join her on a few “auditions” Anton set up for the rest of the day. Between “auditions,” Shawn falls hard for Violet, and she sees the potential for a long con with Shawn as he lives with his very wealthy grandmother, Ruth (Jan D’Arcy). At first, Ruth and Shawn’s brother, Colin (Kaelon Christopher), are happy that he has found love but are immediately suspicious of Violet and her intentions.
Based on Wolf’s novel, The Sound of Violet hits a higher than average number of plot points, more than you’d see in a typical film. I already mentioned the difficulties the disabled face finding/falling in love. The film also examines issues they might have maintaining a job. The awkward Shawn tells Ruth that he just wants to find the right person. His grandma then says she just wants Shawn to make it to the second date. As he falls deeper for Violet, there’s tension between allowing Shawn to make his own choices versus being protected emotionally and financially by Ruth and Colin, who “know better.”
"…a bold and engaging film."