“Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire” was Geoffrey Fletcher’s first professionally produced script. “The irony,” he said back in 2009, “is that I feel like I’m a veteran at the same time.” After all, he was directing homemade, stop-motion thrillers -- starring his toys -- when he was 14. As a psych major at Harvard, he made noirs and docs. And as a graduate film student at NYU, he made “Magic Markers,” which caught the attention of both John Singleton and “Precious” director Lee Daniels, who asked him to adapt the Sapphire book. The result was an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the first won by an African-American.
“Violet & Daisy,” which opens Friday, is Fletcher’s big-screen directorial debut, the story of teenage girl assassins (Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel) and their run-in with James Gandolfini. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it shows Fletcher’s twin fascinations with grit and fantasy -- it was he, not Sapphire, who created the blonde-white-girl hallucinations that Precious has in that film. And it was Fletcher who expanded Lenny Kravitz’s nurse character, who in the book was mentioned only in passing. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring in a male character that was positive,” Fletcher said, acknowledging that there weren’t many.
“Violet & Daisy” he said this week, “sprang from my love of two great genres. It blends and bends crime and coming-of-age while examining friendship, love, girl power, materialism, celebrity fixation, regret and redemption.”
He said a gifted former film student -- he teaches at Columbia and NYU -- saw an advance screening of “Violet & Daisy” and later asked “if I were afraid while taking so many chances, thematically and stylistically. I said that I think a degree of fear is healthy but it is important to be driven by desire and curiosity above all.”
An adjunct professor at Columbia University and New York University, Fletcher possesses an uncompromising approach to movies. The “Precious” script was a perilous thing; “Violet & Daisy” is not the work of someone looking to game the system. He’s a black man who, when given the opportunity to produce a feature with well-known names, made an eccentric risky film. In this world, that makes him rather special.
"Violet & Daisy" hits theaters on June 7.