Sweet ‘Revenge’

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Girls just wanna have fun, right?  In writer-director Coralie Fargeat’s feature, REVENGE, Jen and her married boyfriend Richard are enjoying a weekend away before they’re interrupted by Richard’s two hunting buddies, Stan and Dimitri.  Shit goes down before the three men leave Jen for dead.  Before they can dispose of her body she comes to.  This begins a game of cat and mouse as she hunts down her would be killers to see…revenge.

The Good

At its most simplistic, REVENGE, is the same “tortured woman becomes a vigilante seeking revenge on a group of men” formula that has been told many times before.  From films like the, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE series to IRREVERSIBLE the “woman being raped” trope is often told through a man’s perspective.  At its best, REVENGE can be viewed as an allegory about a woman discovering her strength, literally and figuratively, in a world dominated by men who only view her as nothing more than a fleshlight.  Thanks to Fargeat’s direction the audience also feels the fear that accompanies the sexual aggression of men.  We see how quickly Prince Charming becomes the Prince of Darkness when he feels the need to assert his testosterone-filled power.  Fargeat also avoided the typical and annoying trope of this sub-genre by not exploiting Jen’s body.  In the films mentioned above the woman’s nude and tortured body is on full display in an attempt to show the brutality of her rape.  However,  we know rape is brutal.  The need to show it for 1/3 of a movie can feel cheap and triggering.   Its trauma and volatility are on full display here without actually showing it.  Instead of the woman’s body being objectified it’s a role reversal where the man’s body (Kevin Jansenns) is on full display.  Its meant to be raw, not shocking.  Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz gives a fearless performance as Jen.  She gave levity and depth to a character that is usually written as one-note.  Jansenns played Richard with incredible charm one moment and with extremely dark pathos the next.  Great job to him as well.  Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchède, Stand and Dimitri respectively, were both one parts repulsive and two parts sad-sackery each.

Thanks to Carolie Fargeat’s direction the film was visually stunning and full of kinetic energy.  Despite the ugly nature of the story, the movie looks good. Each scene drips with the characters urgency and fear and their intentions are never unclear.  I look forward to seeing more from Fargeat.

The Bad

Not much.  Sure, there were a few small details that didn’t quite add up or seem realistic but in the grand scheme of things, these were very small issues that never took away from the power of the movie.  However, I will say while the movie is only 108 minutes, at times it felt a bit longer.

The Ugly

REVENGE is a great “rape and revenge” flick, even for people who may not like this sub-genre.  It’s a heart-pounding tale of revenge that never allows itself to feel cheap or demeaning to women.  From the first scene to the last you’re completely engaged with Jen and seeing her switch from a pretty-blonde sexpot to blood-drenched badass rewards the audience in a film that isn’t completely original but does deserve its place in most of last year’s “best of” or “top ten” lists.

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*** out of 4

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