A Vigilante is a stunningly gritty look at a revenge story that is hard to watch in the best way. It is straight to the point about a female character coming to grips with being the victim of domestic abuse and taking her frustration out to help others. Olivia Wilde is in nearly every single shot of the movie and she is magnetic. The story of A Vigilante shines lights on the terrors that victims of domestic abuse go through while also leaving in shadows the depravity that no morale soul wants to witness.
A Vigilante jumps timelines. The audience sees Sadie, played by Wilde, just recently being separated from her husband, and also in the near future, post a major live-turning moment. We learn about the moments Sadie left her husband, what propelled the leap to independence, what lit her rage and what continues to fuel her drive.
From that start of A Vigilante one can tell that there isn’t going to be a lot of buffer. The interactions we see between Sadie and various characters are short, to-the-point and emotionally resonant. Scenes in an emotional support group are gripping, but one staunchly sticks out. After Sadie retells the horror of what drove her to leave her husband, a fellow member of the group speaks harshly not only to her, but also to the audience. In a close up shot looking up at the subject, the viewer is told (paraphrasing here), that if you live through domestic abuse and don’t do anything then you are doing a disservice to all others afflicted and yourself. It is poignant and is the only scene like in the movie.
The interactions between Sadie and her husband (who’s unnamed) are tough to watch because they are so cruelly one-sided. I think major credit needs to be given to first-time feature film writer and director Sarah Daggar-Nickson for a small but insightful decision. The only person to all Sadie by a shortened name is her husband. It is a way to show how he shrinks Sadie down and minimizes her as a person. A way he dominates her not just on the physical level but also emotional.
The bloody carnage is often not shown in the point of view of the camera. With the movie being rated R, I hypothesize that this was on purpose. The physical aspects that many have to endure are behind closed doors, but the ramifications and psychological side effects are viewable to all. A Vigilante puts more purpose on the emotional punches rather than the bodily.
Wilde really does dive head first into this role. There are scenes where she does more talking with her demeanor and then some moments where she screams like a banshee out of hell. You are drawn in closer than you’d expect. It really might be the best acting I’ve personally seen Wilde do. Reminds me of when I was taken aback, in a great way, by Drinking Buddies.
I strong encourage everyone to watch A Vigilante. It is unique and definitely not for all, but you won’t forget watching it whether you’d recommend it or not.
Stanko Rating: B+
Of a random note, this movie had a ton of different studios and entities tight to it, including but not limited to DIRECTTV and Moviepass. Was so many that I did a double take that the opening minute was still showing logos. Didn’t affect the movie at all, but it took my aback.