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Overall Rating

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Worth A Look85.71%
Average: 7.14%
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Total Crap: 7.14%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Revenge (2018)
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by Jay Seaver

"Good bloody vengeance."
4 stars

SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL XX: "Revenge" does what it says on the package - it's a gory, effective rape-revenge picture with moments that are not for the squeamish. It's a lot of violence, maybe more than some are going to be up for, but it's well-staged and good-looking as well as blood-soaked.

It opens with Richard (Kevin Janssens) and his mistress Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) arriving at a fancy vacation house isolated enough that they have to arrive by helicopter. It's fun for a day or two, at least until the other guests - Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède) arrive a bt early. Richard, it seems, was planning two vacations, a romp with his girlfriend and then a hunting trip with the guys, and while they seem to get on well enough, Jen is attacked almost as soon as Richard steps out for a bit - and he does not respond as his girlfriend would hope at all. Lucky for them, she seems to have been pretty definitively dealt with.

Or not; the film is not a ten-minute short named "Rich Men Get Away with Everything". Taking that as a given, writer/director Coralie Fargeat creates an impressive amount of uncertainty as things kick off with a jaw-dropper of a big moment that puts the audience on its back foot and then leads to a bunch of sympathetic groans through much of the film. It's a gruesomely symbolic way of showing the audience how Jen has been violated, one that she carries around for as long as the movie can justify it. It lets Fargeat work her way back up, and she doesn't back off handing the audience another few strong visual cues - not only does Jen soon emerge from a cave as if reborn, but the camera goes up and down her body in the same way it did when she sashayed off the helicopter, this time highlighting tense muscle instead of soft curves.

It's a change of attitude star Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz wears well after an opening act that doesn't treat her as decoration but also doesn't point out specific hidden depths. Fargeat doesn't give her a lot of lines in the back half of the movie, which is fine - it's not like the audience needs a lot of explanation that words can deliver better than action - but this single-mindedness can trip actors and movies up, implying that the victim's trauma has reduced them to something animalistic or less than human, an avatar rather than a person. Lutz manages to carry Jen's personal feelings of outrage and betrayal with her as well as making sure the audience realizes that this is physically difficult, something that can easily be forgotten when a heroine seems to gain weapons proficiency and survival skills awfully easily.

She does undeniably make good use of them once they do appear. There's a well-earned viciousness to the film's violence once she starts to turn the tables even if she never indisputably has the upper-hand, but Fargeat is good about doling it out carefully: Not only are there enough scenes of her adversaries discussing the situation to frame her as a larger-than-life threat in what shadows the rocky terrain offers (and point up a couple different sorts of toxic masculinity as the hunters disdain her and the guy sensible enough to be afraid of her), but it means she's also able to let the audience suss out the terrain and the capabilities of the combatants' weapons. The fights and kills let the cast and the very capable stunt and effets crews show their stuff before nasty, cathartic ends. Even the sequence where it arguably becomes too much because the blood is actually in the way is impressive to watch, satisfying both the viewer's id and the part that notices how shot-to-shot consistency makes action work better.

Coralie Fargeat has her eyes on what certain men expect and what they deserve from the start and rips it up in very satisfying manner, with both the rage and precision to keep "Revenge" from being just another exploitation flick. It doesn't shrink from its simple, violent aim, but pulls it off well enough to make one admire the job its makers have done.

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originally posted: 05/04/18 23:47:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2017 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2018 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2018 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival For more in the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/20/18 damalc impossible to take seriously after she survives a 40-ft fall and is impaled by a tree 3 stars
5/25/18 Langano Unrealistic, predictable nonsense. 1 stars
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  11-May-2018 (R)
  DVD: 07-Aug-2018


  DVD: 07-Aug-2018

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