Written and directed by Coralie Fargeat, Revenge is more a survival western, than it is apart of the 'rape-revenge' genre. The lead character is just trying to live. That's what being a woman is all about right? Surviving in a world dominated by men who think we're nothing more than the sum of our parts. At least, I think that's what's being explored here--or maybe I'm reaching. While it nowhere near as satisfying as other movies in the genre like I Spit On Your Grave or Death Wish, but it has enough charisma to be your next guilty pleasure B-movie.
Jen (played with fervor by actress Matilda Lutz) is enjoying a romantic getaway with her wealthy sugar daddy boyfriend Richard (Kevin Janssens), in an unknown desert vacation spot far away from humanity. The twosome, soon become four as his hunting friends Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède) appear unannounced. As Jen gets to know the strangers, a moment of excitement between the her and Stan gets misinterpreted as something sexual on his behalf.
Tension mounts in the house until the situation intensifies. Jen runs out of options and runs for her life. What happens next is nothing short of bonkers. She is thrown off a cliff 10 stories high, and upon impact she is impaled--yet, she survives. Next, she gets high on peyote, cordorizes the large bloody hole where she is impaled, then runs around the desert dressed in a bikini, with no shoes, carrying more-gun artilerry than Rambo. WTF!
Jen is resilent, resourceful, and handy with a shot gun. But how? The film gives the impression that Jen is somewhat of an airhead. Ugh, why do I even care? I know what type of film I am dealing with. One that survives on movie physics and movie tropes. Revenge doesn't even try to make sense, but I was glued to the screen to see just how far Fargeat pushes the boundaries of believability.
Since survival is the real theme, what is the message here? That women will do what it takes to survive? To win? If survival, not revenge is the central point, why is sexual assault even apart of the narrative because it definitely felt shoehorned into the plot.
Revenge isn't anything groundbreaking. Nor does it create conversation around women's gender norms and roles as the story lacks the nuance needed to start a discussion. Here, the concept of revenge is driven by a paper thin reasoning that weakens it further and at times is flat out lazy. Sexual assault and trauma doesn't always need to be the catalyst behind survival. Why would a woman want to write a story like this?!
Talking about this Revenge is exausting because there is so much to dislike about it. However, I would be remiss to dismiss it entirely. This thrilling, entertaining, cinematic trainwreck kept me hanging on every moment. And I must admit it's charming in a way that what it does right, it does really well. No film as nonsensical and outrageous as this should be ignored.