I’d heard nothing but praise about “Revenge” prior to it landing on my cosmic scales of judgment. Lauded as a stellar, powerful, intense French r&r (rape & revenge) feature, plural positive plaudits praised it as an empowering experience for victims of sexual assault too, which…is kind of the whole point of these movies, right? I mean, if you’ve never known the catharsis of the sub-genre, sure enough this would be a big deal, but what separates Revenge from its peers?
Our victim/heroine/revenger is an American girl (far from as Tom Petty used to define them) named Jen. She’s recently become the barely legal side-piece for French rich boy Richard Not-Branson (who has a really weird idea of what aliens look like, as the quote above will tell you), and is brought via private helicopter to his secret vacation home in the middle of the ever ambiguous “the desert”. They engage in overly choreographed movie intercourse, as you do when you’re carrying on an affair, but two of Dick’s hunting buddies show up unannounced the next day. The pair are early for the boys’ annual hunting weekend and bring with them a dampering on the whole “the naughty things we do in privacy” thing. In fact, said pals weren’t even aware that Monsieur Moneybags had extracurricular strange, noted when Stan (the obvious sex pest of the pair) makes a joke about whether French Guy Pearce is having marital problems.
Rolling a little TOO well with the unexpected intrusion, Jen goes into party girl mode and makes the mistake of flirting with Stan THE OBVIOUS RAPIST-TO-BE who probably has a list of restraining orders against him taller than he is. The unavoidable catalyst for the movie’s namesake occurs the next morning while Richard has pardoned himself to acquire the trio’s hunting licenses, leaving her alone with Stan and Dimitri. Stan’s aggressive declaration of his expectations toward the slender siren don’t go as he planned (because, again, HE’S BEEN RADIATING GROSS RAPE VIBES SINCE HE FIRST LOOKED AT HER!), things take the stomach churning turn that the warning signs all posted was around the corner, and everything goes to shit.
In true “boys club” fashion, Richard attempts to cover things up for his locker room cohort (and save his own ass from the probable fallout in his home life), ultimately ending up with Jen being left for dead in the unforgiving wasteland. She’s not though, otherwise the movie’s title would make no sense!
As far as that aforementioned element that sets Revenge apart from the rest of its friends on the figurative video store shelf? It’s far less exploitative of the female of the species (of whom I hear is deadlier than the male), foregoing any manner of titillation during her violation, keeping the actual act off screen for the most part, and leaving potential pervs hoping for a spank bank deposit instead overdrawn with a lack of funds. In fact, despite putting an emphasis on Jen’s blunt displays of confidence in her own sexual appeal, there are not actual R-rated displays of her bare naughty bits at any point. Instead (and this is likely going to turn away further potential rape-fantasizers), it’s Dick’s dick and bared backside that get the explicit screen time allotment here, folks! Don’t get too excited though, meat marks, cuz his phallus never makes it past flaccid. I’m sure this isn’t normal for him, though. With all the stress of trying to murder and dispose of his mistress, you can forgive him such erectile dysfunction. At least, that’s usually the excuse I use at such self-esteem crippling intercourse interruptions.
Beyond the subject matter, Revenge is shot very nicely for the most part and utilizes the unusual beauty and color palate of its barren surroundings to its benefit. Director (and writer) Coralie Fargeat has a great eye. Maybe even two! I did have to slap my head more than once during a few “that’s not how things work!” moments, though. Also, the movie could’ve used another run through the editing suite to clean up a handful of immersion breaking continuity errors, a big one being the old “massive wound changes sides between shots” mirror botch.
Speaking of, the gore has moments of straight up artistic utilization, but the usually appreciated practical effects suffer sorely during close-up moments. The gallons of synthetic sanguine spillage were sadly not enough to distract me from the impression that everybody’s skin was made of foam rubber. If you opt to watch it, you’ll see what I mean.
A salient-without-being-salacious addition to the sub-genre, Revenge”\ is a mostly-solid r&r movie more than worth a watch, and a fun feature to troll any unsavory MRAs in your life with!
[Krix’s Komments:] This is an ugly movie with a beautiful veneer. The locations are striking and the shots of it (and actors within it) are well framed. But that’s part of the formula for these movies: ugly things happening to beautiful people in beautiful, remote locations. The desert is a great choice for a movie like this, not only because of how its climate can vacillate dangerously between extremes as time passes, but it acts as a visual survivor metaphor. Jen manages to survive the initial rape, the violent attempted cover up, and the journey back through the harsh wilderness where she enacts her vengeance. She deals with environmental extremes and emotional ones simultaneously, her final task still ahead of her as she finds her way back. As with all of these movies, she’s confronted with the reality that while she is avenged, she’s never really made whole despite her efforts. I was surprised at how non-exploitative this movie was, given the history of the genre. There are some great corridor shots in the final act, and at no time does Jen deliver any lame one liners meant to make her sound “tough” for the trailer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with bad one liners in movies, but they don’t really work too well in movies like this. They just come across as trying way too hard. Anyway, if this genre doesn’t make you uncomfortable, give this one a try. There are some silly moments, but it’s technically solid (outside of the rubbery body parts) and doesn’t revel in the sexual violence, which is refreshing.
Three-and-a-half RapeX Anti-Rape Devices out-of-Five
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