Film Review: A Vigilante

Writer-director Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s feature debut A Vigilante is tonally abrupt, yet an engaging and thought-provoking watch.

Sadie helps domestic abuse victims escape their tormentors. Her unorthodox methods sees abusers face retribution. Sadie, however, is plagued by trauma herself…

Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s A Vigilante is a drama crossed with a revenge thriller. The film is thought provoking insofar as it meditates on the nature of revenge, and the impact of this on distressed individuals. Viewers can see that the protagonist is traumatised, but are not shown her background until about half way through the film. A Vigilante does a good job of showing diverse range of domestic abuse victims. Exhibited through group therapy sessions, the film really emphasises that anyone can be a victim. 

The atmosphere in the film is not always gripping. Dagger-Nickson juxtaposes near silent scenes with loud ones; this has some level of shock value. Nevertheless, the are a number of scenes which fail to leave an impression.

A Vigilante’s three acts are quite distinctive. Sadie’s strength and actions shown in first third, with middle third focusing on her background and motivation. The final act pushes film into thriller territory. The three acts are mirrored by the three dispositions of the protagonist. She is methodical and calculated in the first, distressed and attempting to heal in the second, and fuelled by rage in the third. 

The third act is certainly more atmospheric than what precedes it. There is a good use of close ups and over the shoulder shots in the climactic scenes. Light and shadow are utilised well here. A Vigilante boasts a strong central performance from Olivia Wilde. She is well supported by Morgan Spector in a secondary role.  The final conversion is most apt in conveying the perpetrator’s mindset. 

The main drawback of the film is its disjointed acts. The acceleration to revenge thriller feels like a departure that is not really earned by what precedes it. However finale is suitably gripping and well executed. Yet the disjointedness is seemingly deliberate. Dagger-Nickson offers what many revenge thrillers lack; a exploration of the trauma which leads to vengeance, and the fallout from this.

A Vigilante is released at cinemas and on Digital HD on Friday 31st May 2019, and on DVD 3rd June 2019.

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