The current climate in Hollywood regarding women, whether it be involving equal pay or sexual harassment, is extremely unfortunate. The #MeToo movement has become an outlet for survivors to tell their stories. Films have always been outlets to express thoughts and feelings in a creative and important way. French director, Coralie Fargeat seems to be doing that with her directorial debut, Revenge, a brutal throwback to revenge flicks of the 70’s.
Jen, played by Matilda Lutz, is brought along on a hunting trip with her married boyfriend Richard (Kevin Janssens). When Richard’s two friends show up a day early and see the glowing and unbelievably sexy girlfriend, they rape her. She tries to escape, but is left for dead by the three men. Unbeknownst to them, she survives and sets out… you guessed it… to get revenge.
You Seen this Setup Before…But Not Like this
A bevy of films must be running through your head currently, with the exact same or similar plot. Films like The Last House on the Left, or I Spit on Your Grave. Both of which were from the 70’s and have remakes from the 2000’s. All of which are okay films in their own right, but never seem to get something new out of it. The sub genre “rape-revenge” seems inherently negative and most likely pushes audience members away. When done poorly, these films can come off extremely disrespectful and gruesome for the sake of it. Revenge starts off exactly how you’d expect, the woman is extremely sexualized, shown in low-cut t-shirts and bikini bottoms. The camera movements clearly representing the male gaze. After the opening 20 minutes or so, the film really kicks into gear and becomes a new beast entirely.
There is an immense amount of confidence in director Coralie Fargeat, as she directs this as if she’s been doing it for years. So much attention to detail, symbolism, and an astounding sense of tone. Some people have pointed out that this is unrealistic and completely over-the-top, and there is really no denying that. But when you view the film from a specific viewpoint, and even revisit it and put everything together, it clearly isn’t supposed to be taken seriously.
Exploitation films have never been of a realistic nature, most of which are placed in an almost heightened reality, somewhat fantasy like. The over saturated color palette make for an absolute feast for the eyes, very reminiscent of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Pair the images with the glorious synth sounding score by composer ROB makes it difficult to not be hooked instantly. All of these components conjure up one of the most satisfying and brutal movie-going experiences this year.
Revenge is a balls-to-the-wall experience that grabs you and doesn’t let go. This truly isn’t for the squeamish, as this contains some of the goriest sequences to be put on film in quite some time. The confidence in Fargeat is so memorable as many directors who have already made a name for themselves wouldn’t even think twice about doing what she does here. Not only is it extremely entertaining to watch, but there is a through-line and it has meaning. It is cathartic and visceral; we are rewarded by watching the lead character become a warrior.
Matilda Lutz Deserves Your Attention
Lutz starts off as beautiful and sexy, easily passable as weak, and becomes one of the strongest female characters to join the likings of Ellen Ripley from Aliens, and Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. The power of Matilda Lutz as an actress shouldn’t be overlooked, as she gives the best female performance of the year thus far. A star in the making in both the lead actress and director. Fargeat created something wholly unique and visually captivating. She deserves all the money in the world for her next project.
A film like this in this current climate is so important. Disturbing subject matter done in a stylistic way with equal amounts of substance. It is a crowd-pleaser for lovers of midnight movies, but can be taken as a commentary on Hollywood. A highlight in the 2018 movie season. Highly recommended.
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