Revenge revolves around Jen, who engages in an affair with a married man who’s hosting a hunting party in the desert with two more friends. After being brutally raped and left for dead, she’s reborn and swears ‘revenge’ on the men.
This movie marks the feature debut of French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat, and the mark that’s been left is a mighty splash of pain, cruelty, and bloodshed. In what is unquestionably one of the most vigorously violent films of the last few years, Revenge manages to accomplish a physically immersive experience for both the viewer and our female lead.
This film is masterfully directed in its cinematography and sound design. It perpetuates such an unrelenting penchant for gore but it’s never at the expense of characterisation and visual storytelling.
Revenge isn’t just a simple revenge story; this movie is about transgressions. This is especially prominent in the three male characters, one of whom is married. They view Jen as a disposable sex object at the beginning. Following her painful demise, her character arc is set in motion where she’s no longer after the attention or flirting with the guys by the poolside. She becomes a survivor, one who goes through hell and back. As a viewer, you'll feel every painful step, drag, cut, burn and gun shot that she fires and suffers.
The change of Jen's hair colour also struck me, for the style that Fargeat was aiming for I felt that it worked to the film's advantage. I should stress that if you’re going to take the film 100% seriously, there will be moments where you’ll check out because some of the things that happen in this film simply would never happen. Wounds are healed in ways that wouldn’t be possible, characters survive physical mutilations that no one would survive. But this movie is pitched and directed in such a way that I was able to buy into its absurdity, the rules it abides by becoming easier to digest, the excruciating tension and gory imagery quickly acceptable as stylistic norm. The desert itself becomes a character in how much of a hellscape is made out of it.
The sound design is virtually pitch perfect, with the score grimed and pulsated to keep the extreme feeling of unease afloat. Matilda Litz gives an outstanding central performance as Jen, her growth mainly told through physicality and little dialogue. This premise has been done to death but not through a lens with this degree of absolute mayhem.
Revenge was deftly intelligent, mercilessly violent, stylistically impressive and physically immersive. It’s an excellent genre piece that’s not for the faint hearted.
Written by Seán Mac G.