'Violet & Daisy' review: Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan sugarcoat murder for hire

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"Violet & Daisy" plays like a live-action version of a Japanese manga comic. Lurid and bloody, it has elaborate gunplay and kinky-kitschy lollipop-sucking schoolgirls working as assassins to pay for their teen fashions and teen music obsessions. Vintage pop hits underscore their mob hits. And in between "jobs," they pause for a game of patty-cake or hopscotch, or gush about the latest fashions worn by their favorite pop idol, Barbie Sunday.

But this was written and directed by Geoffrey Fletcher, who scripted "Precious," so the bizarre blend of Kewpie doll-coltish and "cult film" is purely American-made.

Alexis Bledel graduates from the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" to full-on sociopath as Violet, who seems to relish packing two pistols into a "Righteous Pizza" box which she and Daisy ( Saoirse Ronan) then deliver, dressed in nun's habits, to unsuspecting victims -- whom they riddle with bullets. Hey, how many jobs let you play dress-up on the way to work?  

Daisy is the more submissive half of the duo, taking all her cues from the more mercenary Violet. Their conversational interludes run the gamut from fashion to what heaven is like.

"Everything's free," Violet fantasizes about the afterlife, "or at least wholesale."

They take their assignments from Russ ( Danny Trejo) and pedal to some of their assignments by tricycle. They share an apartment, fashion sense, worldview -- everything.

That worldview gets shaken up when they're sent to kill a man ( James Gandolfini) who doesn't dread their arrival. He welcomes it. And that throws them off.

But this "job" has a back story -- one they piece together from a message on his answering machine. And there's another crew -- of much older men -- planning to murder this guy, too.

Fletcher and his players never quite hit on a tone that works. Fantastical dream sequences and side trips to the store to get "more bullets" never quite rise to the level of wry commentary. This just isn't as cute and funny as Fletcher seems to think it is.

The set-up -- schoolgirl-age hit women -- is all. But little flourishes -- Bledel emptying two pistols into her targets, or skating across a blood-slickened bathroom floor -- stand out. Even if this doesn't click at the box office, Fletcher could easily make back his budget selling this in Japan. (Provided he puts his lollipop heroines in school uniforms for a scene or two.)

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VIOLET & DAISY
(Grade: C-plus)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Danny Trejo
Written and directed by Geoffrey Fletcher. A Cinedigm release. 
Running time: 1:28
MPAA rating: R, for language: violence, disturbing behavior 
Photo/Video credit: Cinedigm Entertainment Group