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BROOKLYN FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Time for some page turning and book burning in director Fernando Fraiha’s silently savage Welcome, Violeta! This Brazilian/Argentinian thriller opens with previously recorded footage of famous author Holden (Dario Grandinetti) setting fire to 5000 first edition copies of his novel, The Residency. We are then transported to the snow-capped Andes, where writer Ana (Debora Falabella) is waiting with a suitcase for a ride. She is picked up and driven to the large house by a mountain lake where Holden holds his famous writer’s workshop, “End of the World Residency.”

Once at the house, she meets workshop veterans Viggo (Germán de Silva) and Silvia (Maria Ucedo), as well as fellow writers Esteban (Pablo Sigal), David (Freddy Johnson), Sergio (Mariano Sayavedra) and Agnes (Jenny Moule). As he does at the conclusion of every workshop, Holden will pick one of the writers to stay in the mountains to continue working on their project after the others leave. Holden correctly recognizes many of the writers’ main characters are thinly veiled self-portraits.

Holden helps Ana identify more and more with her literary creation…”

His creative philosophy is writing focuses too much on authors’ confessing their transgressions while repressing their fantasies. The path he takes them on is one of breathing life into the unique traits of their characters while smothering the influence of ego. This is done through different writing exercises, which Silvia documents on camera. Holden helps Ana identify more and more with her literary creation, a young girl name Violeta (Greta Antoine) who lives in a broken house in a doomed relationship with a dirty old man, Thomas (Gustavo Hadba). Ana’s creative output thrives under the intensity of Holden’s methods, but her behavior starts becoming more dissociative and erratic.

Welcome, Violeta! gives a welcome fix of the same flavor of thrills one got from Nine Perfect Strangers. I never pictured therapeutic retreat as a thriller subgenre springing up, but it has definitely arrived. Its conventions require a slowly-paced structure. In this case, it manifests itself as the regular programs of the retreat, which have to be explored before what’s in the shadows can be revealed. The screenplay by Fraiha and Ines Bortagaray, based on a book by Daniel Galera, is filled with rich insights into the writing process and the creative temperament.

Welcome, Violeta! (2022)

Directed: Fernando Fraiha

Written: Fernando Fraiha, Ines Bortagaray

Starring: Debora Falabella, Dario Grandinetti, Germán de Silva, Maria Ucedo, Jenny Moule, Pablo Sigal, Mariano Sayavedra, Freddy Johnson, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Welcome, Violeta! Image

"…cinematic journey to the black planet writers call home."

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