September 18, 2018

Movie Review: Revenge (2018)

Rape/Revenge movies have a long and grimy tradition in the cinema world. These movies don’t glorify the prior act, while putting the latter on a pedestal. This is the way it should be, rape is in no way shape or form a defensible act; however, in the form of a rape/revenge movie it can become quite exhilarating to watch the woman overcome and have her revenge on her attackers, thus destroying the male gaze. The films in this genre can be as grimy as they come, like House on the Edge of the Park and I Spit on Your Grave, they can be unsettlingly artistic like Ms. 45 and Irreversible, they can even be popular mainstream films like Death Wish and Kill Bill, Vol. 1. Of late, there have not been all that many that I have been aware of. Now, I have Revenge to fill that hole.

Revenge is a tour de force of revenge and rebirth. It is a brutal and bloody film, but it is also beautifully shot. It is the debut feature from writer/director Coralie Fargeat, and it shows a strength and maturity not often seen in debut films. This is a film that is all about female empowerment, the destruction of the male gaze, and the rebirth of a new woman in the face of adversity. A lot of this is done without dialogue. It should be noted that our lead character does not have any dialogue after the 26-minute mark.

The story follows Jen, as she goes on a remote getaway with her rich, and married, boyfriend. Not long after they arrive at their getaway, a couple of his friends show up. While the boyfriend is away, she is raped by one of his friends. Upon his return, his true colors are revealed when she tries to get him to take her home. With no choice but to run, she takes off into the desert, with the men in pursuit. After catching up, the boyfriend pushes her off an cliff and leaves her for dead.

Fortunately, our heroine is not dead. Miraculously she survives, reborn a creature of revenge. What follows is this game of cat and mouse between the increasingly frustrated men and the woman who did not ask for any of this. Through the night and into the day, she moves along her track of vengeance, never wavering.

When you step back and look at it, Revenge is not a terribly complicated movie. It covers a lot of ground that we have seen before. What is it that makes this particular film work so well? What is it that lifts it above the rest? Execution. Coralie Fargeat delivers some great style and grit. She crafted this film in such a way that you can’t look away. I was drawn in right from the start. Add in the performance of Matilda Lutz, her performance, even when she’s not speaking, is captivating. The transformation and rebirth she goes through is fantastic.

While the big picture is not complex, there is a lot going on, from the reveal of how the characters think and who they really are, the strength and determination of our heroine, and it does have a lot to offer. In the end, the best I can say is to see the movie. It is well worth your time and effort.

Highly Recommended.

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