The Violators
A riveting and powerful drama from Helen Walsh, making her debut as both writer and director to great effect in this film set in Cheshire. The film details the troubled and dysfunctional existence of teenager Shelly- an outstanding performance for newcomer Lauren McQueen- who takes care of her younger brother whilst simultaneously attempting to keep the older one out of trouble while both parents are absent; their father incarcerated in prison for abuse and her mother just disinterested. To complicate matters further she is also approaching an age where she is receiving male attention from both good and bad sources but circumstances force her into making misjudged choices.
Matters become even more confusing when Rachel (Brogan Ellis), a teenager of similar age but totally different background, mysteriously insinuates herself into Shelly’s life but even she has an agenda of her own. Frustrated by the circumstances of her existence when local loan shark Mikey- a perfectly pitched performance by Stephen Lord- offers her a way out she is initially reluctant as she realises that the only currency he is willing to accept from her is sex. Matters soon escalate into a situation which is spiralling out of control until Rachel steps in with a suggestion she initially balks at but allows herself to be persuaded that perhaps it is the only solution. Things are never that simple however and the plot takes on new twists and turns with revelations and shocks revealed at regular intervals to great effect as often they are underplayed.
‘The Violators’ often feels like a film which isn’t trying too hard and this is perhaps its greatest strength. The performances are taut and never falter or stumble towards high drama. Instead it is almost downbeat, although the subject matter is serious and situations, which are really very disturbing and thought provoking, are never actually discussed therefore relying on the viewer to form their own conclusions. It is an interesting and often harrowing work which makes great use of a strong cast and well thought out screenplay.

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