I remember, I was supposed to go to a screening of this film when it debut, but for some reason got cancelled and I kinda forgot about it until browsing the dvd section in Barnes & Noble last weekend. How did I let this gem pass me by? Thank god for DVDS still being sold at Barnes & Noble. Any who, my gut told me to buy it, so I did and I’m not at all disappointed. I'm actually pleasantly surprised REVENGE directed by Coralie Fargeat is a French film. Oh la la! C'est la vie! And that's all the French I know but captures the spirit of embodied within this film.
Silliness aside, in some ways I think of REVENGE in a similar vein of the film DRIVE in terms of style because the cinematography just makes me exhale in delirium given the picturesque landscape of a desert. Isolation, demented men, and a lone female; the final girl which is an overplayed trope but doesn’t make it any less gratifying. We need the final girl, now more than ever.
The shot with the half bitten apple initially made me think of the creation story with Adam and Eve, but later on I realized and kept thinking to myself, this women’s bite has a strong appetite for REVENGE. Corny, much? I don’t care. I also thought this is very much like the French version of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Any women scorn and survivor of rape will lose their mind, spirit, and soul in the trauma, but really its in the aftermath where the process of healing takes root. I’ve encountered a plenty bit of horror films from women about avenging the hard, despicable truth of their body being violated and they have to regain control by killing the perpetrator. In essence, it’s cathartic but also from a sociological standpoint it’s still a fucking problem in our society! Always has been and probably always will. Before I go into a crazy rant, I’ll recalibrate my focus on this harrowing film about so much bad blood between a woman and three men, who apparently have zero sense between them. Ughh!
And as the saying goes, “You reap what you sow,” and because all the men in this film are so animalistic, callous, and horny, it really paints a poor picture of the male species and in ways the filmmaker places a stark contrast between the two with intermittent shots of reptiles, and wrestlers. Interesting choice. The men are hunters, and in all obviousness in this case because they have guns, but also neglect the need to be anything but inferior. Sigh. So obviously, this film came in right at the time of the #MeToo movement and maybe that’s serendipitous so history can preserve its importance. Am I stretching this too far? Maybe. Nonetheless it resonates with a portion of our planet’s population.
Matilda Lutz plays Jen, a woman who's sadly the “other” woman in a relationship with a married man on a weekend getaway in a faraway desert where you can apparently only travel by helicopter to get to this man’s vacation house. Who has a vacation house in a desert? Someone with creepy, sinister tendencies, that’s who. What’s more antagonizing is this idiot books his dude’s weekend with his bros who show up a day early to go hunting. How moronic. Now if I were the lone female in this case, I’d be very concerned and most definitely would lay awake trying to come up with an escape plan.
Unfortunately, its too little too late for Jen as things escalate to the max where's she metaphorically placed between a pack of wolves and a cliff. Options are limited and I won't give away what happens next, but the logical side of your brain will indeed think, "There's no way. That's not feasible." Simmer that down and remind yourself this is a fantasy and you'll have much more fun as the adrenaline pumps through your veins as you cheer this girl on. This brings me to one of two of my most favorite sequences and am starting to realize french women filmmakers LOVE to indulge in blood. I thought TROUBLE EVERY DAY had a ton of blood. I was wrong. Seeing Jen's hair go from blonde to bloodstain certainly emphasizes great transformation.
The way she frames Jen in the tree, ( I won't say how she got there) but it's beautiful. The pacing, the suspense, the pain, the blood, it's wild and I kept thinking she had time to grab her iPod and lighter? Again, this is a fantasy. But even the details with the ants crawling around her skin and in the blood. Why is this so beautiful to me? It nearly feels like being hypnotized. The second sequence being in the cave is what I imagine having a spiritual awakening must feel like. Of course being in a severe amount of pain, taking peyote must take the edge off, but coming away with a Phoenix tattoo well damn that changes a girl's spirit and is pure genius. I don't care if it's too on the nose. I love it.
REVENGE such as it is took me off guard because having this much fun feels like I'm harboring a fugitive of sanity and indulgence when I should just be embedded with fury. It's very conflicting to explain why I find REVENGE peculiarly captivating. The cinematography, editing, and circumstances of the story elevate the suspense while the make up department probably ran out of fake blood in attempting to keep up with the chaotic demand. Nonetheless, if you like revenge stories, then there's no doubt you'll love REVENGE. Even the title cuts straight to the heart of the story. It's just so cool.