SXSW Film Festival ’18: ‘A Vigilante’ showcases the power of fighting back

This review is by our guest writer, Christina Huang.
Wow. I had no words after the screening for this was over. Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s directorial debut absolutely stuns. Olivia Wilde gives a truly phenomenal performance that showcases the hardships of leaving an abusive relationship and how we can use our suffering to help others. Although there were a few minor errors in terms of the narrative, the movie was beautiful, powerful, and most of all, eye-opening.
‘A Vigilante’ tells the story of Sadie (Olivia Wilde), a woman who rescues other women from their abusive relationships. The film opens with Sadie beating an abusive husband and forcing him into leaving his home and quitting his job. We quickly learn that Sadie herself has a tragic backstory. After she leaves her abusive husband, he comes close to killing her and completely shatters her life. Sadie attends a support group and by listening to stories from other women (played by actual domestic violence survivors), and realizes that she has to stand against this horrific abuse. She can no longer stand by and watch as other people endure the pain and misery from domestic violence.


Olivia Wilde truly brings Sadie to life in a sensational performance by demonstrating the deep pain she still feels from her husband’s abuse. At times, this film is not super heavy in dialogue and relies heavily on Wilde’s facial expressions to convey Sadie’s thoughts and emotions. Although this type of visual acting can be difficult for many actors, Olivia Wilde executes those scenes in a superb manner.
Wilde’s great performance is not the only thing that makes ‘A Vigilante’ so special. The soundtrack contributes to the suspenseful feeling of the film. During some of the most intense parts of the movie, we can hear a multitude of string instruments that help create the rising tension on the screen. Since the film is not so reliant on dialogue, the soundtrack is vital to the auditory effects of the film. Additionally, there are quite a few shots that are absolutely beautiful. The cinematography is quite wonderful and definitely adds to the technical aspects of the film.
Most importantly, ‘A Vigilante’ demonstrates the power, resilience, and compassion of women. Sadie’s ability and willingness to help others that are trapped in abusive relationships shows how strong women are. Even when she had nothing left for herself, Sadie dedicated her time to helping others. By featuring real life domestic violence survivors in the film, Sarah Daggar-Nickson highlights how real the problem of spousal abuse is and how difficult it is for survivors to leave their abusers. From a technical standpoint, the movie has a fascinating soundtrack and splendid cinematography. ‘A Vigilante’ reminds us how important cinema is in telling the stories of those who have suffered at the hands of the ones they thought cared for them, and that we must stand up and fight for the people who cannot protect themselves.

Christina Huang is a guest writer for Much Ado About Cinema. You can find her on twitter here. If you would like to contribute your own essay or review to the site, please email muchadoaboutcinema@gmail.com, or use the contact form provided. For the rest of Christina’s SXSW coverage, click here.

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