There are three shots in “Shrinking Violett” which are absolutely first rate. Early in the film, there’s a terrific pan off of what looks like a shot of the kitchen, which then rotates across the actual kitchen, making the audience aware they were actually looking into a mirror and not a window. It is a shot both elegant and creepy, suggesting the reality we are viewing is just a little bit off of the truth. The other two shots are perfectly timed, framed and lit “got ya!” moments better left for watching. They work so effectively it seems unfair not to mention them, because they are the only highlights of “Shrinking Violett.”
The Violett of the title is, according to her shrink’s voice-over, a woman with a lot of problems, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors and a possible history of abuse. As the story begins, she gets up, showers, prepares for work, drives to work, then pauses to consider her purse. She has forgotten her cell phone at home, which seems to be some sort of major crisis. So she goes to a nearby pay phone, grabs it with what appears to be a handkerchief, and calls her supervisor to tell him she won’t be in today. She goes into work the next day, and her supervisor hassles her. At the end of the week, she goes to see her analyst. One is forced to conclude that she must be his only client, as his home office is severely lacking in light bulbs, judging by the fact that he manages to spend all his scenes ensconced at least partially in shadow.
Violett complains about her day, leaves the session, goes home – and yikes, guy in the window! She makes a panicked phone call to her doctor, who talks her through what turns out to be a hallucination, and all is well. Also, boring.
That’s the central problem of “Shrinking Violett.” For the first ten minutes of the film, it doesn’t really state what it might be. Violett’s difficulty walking into work, and her issues with her boss are so reminiscent of films like Office Space that when she fantasizes about breaking her boss’s neck, the viewer has no idea whether they should laugh or be scared.
It doesn’t help that the acting is less than professional and the dialogue is neither clever nor creepy enough to save the actors. A good twist at the end might have bumped this film up a star or two, but instead the audience is stuck with a page pulled straight out of Stephen King’s “Misery.”
There are some good visuals here, and stripped of most of its dialogue and running time this film could probably work. But in its current form it lays there, as inert as the homicide victims it portrays.
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