9/17/2018

REVENGE (2017) (Review)

Title: Revenge
Writer/ Director: Coralie Fargeat
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz (as Matilda Lutz), Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe
Min: 108
Year: 2017 (released in the US 2018)

Beautiful, American born Jen (Matilda Lutz) is in a secret relationship with married and wealthy French man Richard (Kevin Janssens). Together, they are on a secret getaway at a house that he owns in the middle of the desert. There, he will later meet up with two of his hunting buddies, Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouch├Ęde). But, they end up arriving a day early, surprising the couple.
That night they have a fun night of drinks. Jen dances provocatively, as the men have their eyes on her body. The next day, while Richard is away, Stan tries to get Jen to have sex with him, claiming that by the way she was dancing, she was coming on to him. When she shoots him, he gets pissed off and rapes her. Dimitri sees what is happening and does nothing, ignoring what is happening. When Richard comes back, Stan tells him what has happened. Richard tries to pay off Jen, so that she won't tell anyone. To which she responds that she will tell Richard's wife everything. They chase after her. But, as they reach a cliff, Richard pushes her off of it. She falls and lands on a tree becoming impaled. She doesn't die, though, and soon she begins her revenge on the three scumbags.

Revenge is a French (that has both English and French dialogue) rape-revenge movie that has been receiving much deserved massive critical adoration. It is without question the best movie of the sub-genre since Abel Ferrara's masterful Ms. 45 and one of the very best movies of the year. In fact, the flick is a modern genre masterpiece that will be studied and talked about in the years to come.
Writer/ director Coralie Fargeat has made one of the most exciting and breathtaking directorial debuts in the genre in many a moon. It is has a strong and true feminist view which sets apart from many of the most renowned movies this kind, all of which are made by men. Her message is clear and very much in key with the current world of the "me too" movement. It clearly states that no matter how a woman is dressed or however one might perceive her behavior to be, no is fucking no, and that is the end of it. So, don't be a fucking scumbag.
At the beginning of the movie, the camera ogles and worships the beauty of Jen. The way her body is framed and centered on acts as the male eye. But, she is more than a sex object. And, as she begins her bloody vengeance she becomes  a strong and powerful character, that we cheer on as she takes on the pieces of shit who wronged her in such horrible manners.

Fargeat is also great at breeding tension. The camera follows the hunted and the hunters, raising the blood and getting your pulse going. You hope and cheer as she offs the next asshole, and one worries that she doesn't get herself hurt or worse. The camera also always makes the environment clear and easy for the audience to understand, adding to the suspense. The pitch perfect editing and cutting, many times back and forth, further adds to pulse pounding, edge of your seat feel.
Beyond that, the movie is beautiful to look at. I am only referring to Lutz' inherit beauty. The movie's colors pop and blister, especially in the desert heat. Fargeat also makes the violence extremely graphic, including some of the most blood spraying squibs you are likely to see and sets drenched in splattered blood.
All four of the actors are excellent. Our three villains are detestable male chauvinist pigs, bought to reality by the actors portraying them. They never enter the realm of camp or of over-the-top indulgence. Janssens, in particular, makes for villain that you cannot wait till he gets his comeuppance. 

Lutz, though, is the movie's true star. And, this film never let's you forgot that. She is the centerpiece and the heart of the story. As such, the actress does an amazing job of bringing Jen to life. This is a tour-de-force role and the single breakthrough performance of the year, so far.
Revenge is an unbridled masterpiece. It takes the rape-revenge movie into feminist territory that it has long flirted but never fully committed to. The movie is expertly directed and edited. Intense and brutally violent, it grabs your attention and never lets it go. Beautiful to look and with a never more appropriate than now theme, the flick is a timely masterwork. With excellent acting and a career defining performance by Lutz, it achieves cinematic success after cinematic success. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray and exclusively streaming on Shudder, there is no excuse for fans of revenge and quality, but bloody, genre film-making to miss this one. 


4 out of 4

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