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Writer-director Madeleine Sims-Fewer stars in Violation.

Courtesy of GAT

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  • Violation
  • Written and directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer
  • Starring Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire and Jesse LaVercombe
  • Classification R; 107 minutes

Stylistically stomach-churning and narratively turbulent, this debut feature from Canadian filmmakers Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli has all the hallmarks of a TIFF Midnight Madness classic – though I was glad that no one this past September had to endure its nightmare vision in the late hours of the night surrounded by an auditorium of strangers, because they just might have been scarred for life.

Violation’s story is simple, if intense: On a weekend visit to see her sister in cottage country, the matrimonially unsatisfied Miriam (Sims-Fewer) endures a violent encounter with someone close to her, which then leads to an act of messy and, at one point, jaw-dropping revenge. Mirroring Miriam’s fractured state of mind, the film’s timeline is sliced and diced to resemble the jagged shards of a jigsaw puzzle, a tactic that engages but doesn’t ultimately satisfy.

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Still, the dead-seriousness with which Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli approach their subject is admirable, as is the former’s unsettling lead performance. And you won’t find another film this year that subverts the male gaze in such a brutally naked manner.

Violation is available on the digital TIFF Lightbox starting March 19.

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

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