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Oscar winner Geoffrey Fletcher previews new film locally

By Kristina Dorsey

Publication: The Day

Published April 16. 2013 4:00AM
AP file Photo
Geoffrey Fletcher with the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in 2010.

Winning an Oscar doesn't just mean a trophy - it also means opportunity.

For Geoffrey Fletcher, who won a 2010 Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for "Precious," he has gotten the chance to direct his own feature film - a first for him.

"Violet & Daisy," which is set for a June release, is what Fletcher has described as "a teen assassin fable." Two killers-for-hire (Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan) find their lives and outlooks changed by their latest target (James Gandolfini).

Fletcher, who grew up in Waterford, will screen the film - which he also wrote and co-produced - at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Connecticut College. He has held this kind of preview at a few college campuses."Violet & Daisy" also has been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Savannah Film Festival. It is being distributed in North America by Cinedigm Entertainment Group.

Before screenings, Fletcher likes to warn people that it ends in a very different place from where it starts.

He's right. The movie isn't what it first seems, and it gets deeper and richer as it goes.

But here's how it begins: with a comic-book aura, as Violet and Daisy, dressed as nuns, walk down city streets as Violet (Bledel) unspools a long joke that Daisy (Ronan) ultimately doesn't get. Then, they pull out guns, burst into an apartment, and take out a few guys.

They want to do another hit to make enough money to buy a dress designed by their pop-star idol Barbie Sunday. The intended victim is an anti-Tony Soprano - warm, sensitive - and you can see why Gandolfini wanted to play the character.

Each of the actors plays against type, and Fletcher says, "I'm excited for other people to see these sides of them."

The script boasts plenty of sharp, funny lines and unexpected turns. It's visually interesting, too, with intriguing shots and a dream sequence that is downright stunning.

Fletcher had directed many of his own films when he was growing up and in grad school, but "Violet & Daisy" was his first big project. Directing can be tough - with 12- to 16-hour days - but Fletcher says he wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

What follows are some of Fletcher's emailed responses about "Violet & Daisy":

On deciding to shoot "Violet & Daisy" as his first feature film:

"I had been thinking about 'Violet & Daisy' for a long time. I wanted to shoot it next because, having worked on (the script) so recently, I was still very much inside of its universe."

On what it was about these characters and this storyline that made him want to develop them:

"It seemed that the more time I spent with them, the more opportunities they presented in terms of building a story that held as much humanity as it did entertainment value. Though Violet and Daisy live in a world of their own, they face so many dangers and issues squarely rooted in our everyday lives. I've been amazed how powerfully people connect with them."

James Gandolfini approached the filmmakers about playing his part:

"I was honored by how enthused he was about it. Most of our conversations were about who this man was. His performance is a marvel. You've never seen him like this before. I suspect he wanted the role because he's an artist who has many more gears and incredible range."

"Violet & Daisy" is about teen assassins, so there is, obviously, some gun violence:

"The violence in the film is spare overall, in the context of a fable and in service of redemption. Violent stories and video games are consumed around the world though some issues with guns seem uniquely American. Perhaps we should examine our other cultural, political and historical differences in search of a realistic solution to these problems."

On directing:

"Parts of it, such as choosing shots and designing sequences, felt very familiar. Because I was so accustomed to working with very few people or alone for so long, working with such a large crew was certainly a change. I shoot in a pretty specific way. I suspect the crew might have wondered what I was doing once or twice, but they were too professional to say anything to me about it at the time. Long after the shoot, one of my key crew members told me that he didn't know what I was doing one day until he saw the film, and it made sense to him then."

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IF YOU GO

What: "Violet & Daisy" screening

Who: Director-writer-co-producer Geoffrey Fletcher will introduce his film and answer questions afterward

When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Evans Hall, Connecticut College, New London

Admission: Free

For more info: (860) 439-2458.

Co-sponsored by: Connecticut College OVCS, the Holleran Center for Community Action & Public Policy, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity (CCSRE), and the Film Studies Department

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