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Sundance 2024 Review: Veni Vidi Vici – “a relatively handsome film that feels empty.”

Laurence Rupp, Olivia Goschler and Dominik Warta appear in Veni Vidi Vici by Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann, an official selection of the World Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Gerald Kerkletz

“The point is, who will stop me.”

This quote by Ayn Rand opens the film Veni Vidi Vici, which translated from Latin means I came, I saw, I conquered.  The quote pretty well sums up the entire film, written by Daniel Hoesl and directed by Hoesl and Julia Riemann.  It’s an examination of wealth and entitlement, though it never really moves beyond the surface to the root of the problem.

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The film opens promisingly but violently.  A cyclist is shot off his bicycle by a sniper before a man, whom we will come to know as billionaire businessman Amon Maynard (Laurence Rupp) saunters over with his butler, Alfred (of course his name is Alfred).  Amon casually changes his shoes as others cycle by, and takes his victim’s bike, leaving the servant to clean up the rest.  When he continues his ‘hunting’ spree, which he does as part of his work-life balance, he often does so in one of his many white Porsches.  And this is just one member of the Maynard family.

It’s hard to know if he’s the worst, or if that crown may be taken by his daughter, Paula (Olivia Goschler).  At least Amon seems to be a loving family man, but Paula has keenly observed the way the world works for her kind and now, as a teenager, she is determined to continue the family tradition of blatant disregard and nastiness.  We meet her while she plays polo (during an exceedingly long slo-motion scene) where she fouls a player.  But, to her a foul is not a crime and ethics are a waste of time.  When she shoplifts from a local shop she notes glibly in voice-over, “If you don’t get caught you deserve everything you’ve stolen.  Performance deserves reward.”  

But, it doesn’t matter what the Maynards ever do.  They can continue to steal or to murder, even in an increasingly brazen manner, and the police turn a blind eye.  They can bulldoze an environmental reserve for their own gain.  Politicians and even local media are in their back pocket.  The only people who see the ridiculousness of reality give up trying to make them stop. 

Veni Vidi Vici feels like a crossover between 2020’s The Hunt, where the wealthy hunted citizens for sport, and a Ruben Östlund film.  However, it never leans into the dark humour of the former, and lacks the depth of the latter.  What remains is a relatively handsome film that feels empty.  We watch this family, that on the outside seems positively idyllic, murder, destroy, and manipulate others.  They have a brazen lack of disregard for anyone who isn’t family.  There isn’t one redeeming quality, no protagonist worth rooting for in this film.

So while Veni Vidi Vici is never really boring, and the actors (especially Rupp) portray their horrible characters with talent and enthusiasm, it feels like it doesn’t have a lot more to say.  Its cynical ending, where we further see the next generation embrace the entitlement of wealth, feels like defeat.  That’s not to say there isn’t some truth here.  A few years ago now a certain high-powered, hateful individual claimed he could probably shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.  I’m not sure this is completely true, but I’m not sure it’s wrong either.  Even that doubt is a pretty dreary commentary on the state of society.  So is this film. 

Veni Vidi Vici premiered at the Sundance Film Festival January 18, 2024.  For more information head to

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