Starring: Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe
Director: Coralie Fargeat
Running Time: 108 mins
Revenge is a French film about a woman who finds herself fighting desperately to survive after being raped, and then hunted down by her lover and his friends.
While it’s a film that’s certainly rather loose with the laws of reality, there’s no denying just how much fun Revenge is as a slick, action-packed thriller. Thanks to brilliantly energetic and crisp directing from Coralie Fargeat, a powerhouse lead performance from Matilda Lutz, and a thumping pulp score, this is a film that hooks you from beginning to end, taking you on a hugely entertaining ride through the most extreme of survival thrillers.
Now, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the survival genre is my absolute favourite of all, and it’s films like this that really excite and thrill me in a really unique way. Comparing Revenge to some of my many favourites of the genre, it hits the right beats as a slick and exciting survival thriller – which is what makes it so entertaining – but its often preposterous story unfortunately takes away some of the gritty intensity that could have made it a genuinely breathless watch.
Before I get into that, however, let’s just talk about what really makes this film tick, and that’s Coralie Fargeat’s fantastic directing. Filling the film with delicious pulp energy from the start, Revenge powers along to the sound of a pounding score, while Fargeat makes use of some spectacular cinematography to make the film a non-stop ride of sheer entertainment, pushing and pushing the film’s insane story to the point that you just can’t help but take your eyes off the screen.
The pulp thriller is a genre that can work really well, but only if you have a director like Fargeat that can bring all of its energy together in truly sleek fashion. That’s why, as well as being a thumping and crazed thriller, Revenge is also full of crisp and brilliantly-directed action that resists all temptations of shaky cam and quick cuts, instead clearly establishing the space in which it all takes place to allow you to really engross yourself in all of the mayhem.
Sure, one of Revenge’s downfalls is its often simply preposterous nature, but it’s that combination of thrilling energy and crisp, calm directing that makes it such a striking watch, and allows you to really follow the action up close.
Another big plus here comes in the form of the lead performance by Matilda Lutz. Hunted down by the three men she found herself holidaying with in the desert, she brilliantly portrays her character’s transition from a stereotypically soft mistress to a ruthless killer who does everything to seek justice on those that have sent her to this point of fighting for her life.
Again, while her character does possess almost superhuman abilities of survival that do take away from the immediate danger you feel for her, Lutz absolutely nails the film’s vibe with her performance. On the one hand, she’s a gritty, ruthless lead that fits the film’s thrilling neo-feminist core, yet on the other, she plays up her character’s insane abilities with great zeal, making her absolutely huge fun to watch and support right the way through.
Now, we come to the one thing that just doesn’t quite work about Revenge: the story. While the film is all in all a really fun watch, and an energetic premise that never gets boring, its more ridiculous sensibilities are what unfortunately prevent it from being a really exciting and intense watch, stripping away the real danger and threat at hand as we watch our leading lady both run from and fight back against her pursuers.
As I’ve mentioned, her abilities of survival are beyond anything I’ve seen before, and in comparison to some of the best modern survival thrillers (The Grey, Battle Royale, U-July 22 etc.), you really don’t have that extra level of intrigue and excitement here, as you follow a main character that seems totally invincible to anything.
With all that said, I had huge fun with Revenge. It’s an energetic, slick and pulsating thriller that features non-stop action entertainment, brought together in brilliant fashion by director Coralie Fargeat, and featuring a hugely entertaining lead turn from Matilda Lutz, even if its rather relaxed attitude to reality does work against it sometimes, which is why I’m giving it a 7.7 overall.