There’s nothing more awkward than seeing a couple screaming at each other in public. Or nothing more interesting, if you’re the nosy type. And let’s be honest, we all are to some extent. That said, if a gun is involved, the situation is less juicy gossip and more terrifying tragedy waiting to happen. Veto is the story of the latter.
As their marriage collapses, Gary (Guy Ventoliere) and Mary (Mary Paige Snell) become increasingly aggravated by each other’s presence. As Mary eats out at a restaurant, Gary confronts her - pointing a gun to her head and starts threatening to execute her. As she pleads for her life, Mary finds confidence despite the danger to confront Gary about her own issues with their marriage. And as the tension rises, the pair finally unleash their rage and frustration at one another.
Veto is carried on the backs of its two lead actors. Guy Ventoliere and Mary Page Snell’s performances as two sides of a collapsing marriage are raw, ruthless and filled with fury. Gary’s heartbreak over his wife’s infidelity leads believably to his breakdown, and his weakness when he catches himself in the middle of his hostage-taking revenge is harrowingly pathetic. Mary’s righteous anger is on full display – she has little time for Gary’s threats to her life and turns the situation on its head through sheer force of will. Each actor brings a wrath to their character and raises the tension into overdrive as a result.
The plot and script however do not meet the standard of the performances. It is a good thing the actors are able to portray rage well, because their characters show little else throughout the film in way of emotion. The 8-minute runtime is largely made up of screaming and grimacing, which the directors seem to believe makes for a deep and powerful examination of their relationship. In execution, it just comes across as soap-opera style melodrama. There is no intricacy to the relationship. And given that we get little detail about exactly why their marriage has collapsed, beyond vague mentions of cheating, it is hard to engage with the situation on much more than a surface level.
The film’s theme seems to be focused on resentment and how unspoken issues can result in dramatic outcomes. But without any insight into the relationship prior to the screaming match we see, it is unclear whether the terrifying situation could really have been avoided through the conversations the film implies are lacking. We do not know if the level of rage we see is truly justified, and cannot relate to either side of the shrieking as a result.
The film does end on an unexpected and innovative note which will catch audiences by surprise and alters the entire perception of the story. It is a nice twist that is executed creatively and with strong impact. Unfortunately, it feels a little too late to rescue the film which has long since gotten lost inside its own screaming match.
Without much of a story for audiences to sink their teeth into, Veto is little more than an exercise for two very good performers to show off their best angry faces in a game of screaming one-upmanship.