• Nate Adams

SXSW Snapshots: 'Violet,' 'The Fallout' and 'Ninjababy'


Editor’s Note: The SXSW Snapshot series is a collection of short reviews from our coverage of the 2021 South by Southwest online film festival. Reviews were compiled in no particular order. Be on the lookout for more snapshots. Enjoy!


VIOLET

One of the more unique films to come out of the SXSW film festival, Justine Bateman’s intriguing debut “Violet” manifests our inner thoughts/voices with giant words plastered on screen. Olivia Munn, in one of her more grounded roles, plays 32-year old Violet, the head of a major movie studio in Hollywood and someone who constantly deals with blatant sexism and harassment. Woman getting demoralized in the workplace is, sadly, nothing new, but Violet’s internal compartmentalization (which is voiced by Justin Theroux) provides interesting context to how she’s feeling.


Violet’s thoughts scroll across the screen in big, boisterous cursive lettering, a visual tactic that grows tiresome the longer it drags on. Still, Munn – who has been vocal about personal mistreatment in the industry – has a great role to appreciate and the actress digs deep into her moral conflicts with Bateman providing a solid foundation that not only trusts the audience, but the characters too.


Grade: B+


VIOLET debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is seeking distribution.


NINJABABY

A bold Norwegian comedy that isn’t afraid to take mighty swings and echoes remnants of “Juno,” Yngvild Sve Flikke’s rambunctions “Ninjababy” never overstays its welcome. Kirstine Kujath Thrope plays Rakel, a mid-twenties cartoonist struggling to make ends meet. She enjoys sex, gossip, and beer but loathes the idea of being a mom. When she finds herself on the end of an unplanned pregnancy, an abortion makes sense, but when those options become mute, Rakel manifests an animated version of her unborn child to argue with. The vulgar animated sidekick snickers and offers hilarious commentary on their surroundings: “Did you really let that man have sex with you?”


Inga Saetre and Johan Fasting – based on the former’s graphic novel – fill the screenplay with plenty of running and crudely inspired gags that could make “South Park” blush. But there’s an emotional connection too: including Rakel’s involvement in the adoption process that yields poor results. That “Ninjababy” doesn’t lean into normal plot conventions or emotionally manipulative subplots (when it could easily detour) makes it a refreshing comedy that’s driven by instinct and not cheap values.


Grade: B+


NINJABABY debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is seeking distribution.


THE FALLOUT

Winner of the SXSW Narrative Feature Competition, Megan Park’s timely and emotionally straining “The Fallout” explores teenage grief with a delicate, somber lens. “The Fallout” follows high schooler Vada (Jenny Ortega) as she struggles with life following a school shooting. Aided by a terrific ensemble including Will Ropp, Maddie Ziegler and Niles Fitch, “The Fallout” comes at a time when gun legislation is being debated in congress, and teaches us the horrors survivors face. Sadly, society has become numb to gun violence and this generation’s acclimation to shooter drills is consequential of a system desperately in need of reform.


But “The Fallout” doesn’t get into the gun debate and instead focuses on Vada’s internal pain - she was huddled in a bathroom stall with Mia (Ziegler) while the shooter killed their classmates - and how she tries to overcome trauma through a variety of outlets. It doesn’t paint a happy ending nor does it provide much hope for the future, but Parks understands this epidemic needs to be addressed and Ortega anchors the film's emotional core, delivering a nuanced performance steeped in authenticity. It’s sad a movie like “The Fallout” has to exist, though watching Park tackle teenage anxiety and start an important conversation on mental illness, you’re glad that it does.


Grade: B+


THE FALLOUT debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is currently seeking distribution.


All above photos courtesy of the SXSW Film Festival