[🎵The song playing during the intro is “Ill Wind”, by Clive Hicks. You can find it and the other songs from the film on the playlist at the end of the review.]
0:02:48 A beautiful young woman [Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as Jen] and a beautiful young man [Kevin Janssens as Richard] arrive by helicopter at a remote desert house. The helicopter pilot [Jean-Louis Tribes as Roberto] gives Richard a small baggie of peyote as a welcome gift — and it is a very welcome gift.
0:04:14 Jen and Richard have inaugural sex to christen the house. Jen has a head for sex, and Richard’s getting it.
[N.B. I’d like to point out that there is brief male nudity here (‘side dick’, if you must know, perv) and yet there isn’t any female nudity. Proof that the director, Coralie Fargeat, is truly trying to make a feminist film here.]
0:04:57 Richard gets a call from his wife, which is obvious because of the screaming children in the background and the conversation about a child’s First Communion lunch. Note, he speaks French with her but spoke in English with Jen, who we now understand is his mistress. The communion lunch won’t be the only thing with something on the side.
0:06:22 A close-up of Jen’s arse as she walks to the kitchen the next morning. This film has some great assets, and Forgeat isn’t afraid to show them off.
[🎵 The song Jen is listening to in her buds as she walks is King Size, by Corleone. See playlist at the bottom of this article.]
[N.B. This apple will become a big symbol very soon. Just remember the Bible story and how the apple was used to tempt people. Here, the apple is used to represent Jen’s innocence, the Garden of Eden before the Fall.]
0:06:54 + 7:04 The next morning, Jen is shocked to see two strange men with rifles standing at the glass patio door. This scene is very Gun-Hoe.
[N.B. Two things of note. First, after the apple symbolism, notice the Virgin painting behind Jen as personification of the Madonna / Whore complex (men are looking for a Madonna in public and a whore in the bedroom). I believe Forgeat is saying here that one woman is capable of both. Another interesting point is that Stan is looking at Jen through a pink-tinted glass door. This will be contrasted at the end of the film (1:36:33) where the male is seen through a blue tinted window. Pink = Girl / Blue = Boy.]
0:07:44 We learn that Richard’s hunting mates have arrived a day early, thus are not meant to find him there with his mistress. Were they the only ones who came early?
[N.B. As the three men are all French, they speak French to each other (with subtitles) and English with Jen.]
0:08:24 Dimitri and Stan ogle Jen as she walks away. The point being made here, is that Jen is — even though she’s walking about in her knickers — Jen is like me at the proctologist’s: still not asking for it.
[This GIF is not gratuitous, and will become important in the third act, I promise. ✋]
[🐣 Note that Richard tosses the apple (6:52) to both Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède), symbolising the serpent tempting Eve in the garden of Eden. Stan catches it and takes a bite, meaning he’s unable to resist the temptation. This is foreshadowing.]
0:08:59 We’re offered another view of Jen’s derriere as she walks in her bikini to the pool, proving it’s better to have a tight arse than be one.
[🐣 Yes, this is the third time we’ve seen Jen’s arse in action, but there’s a point. Remember that the film is directed by a woman and is meant to be a feminist film (roughly, but also roughly). Regardless how sexy Jen is, she’s still not asking for sex and does not deserve what she will soon come to her.]
[🐣 The interspliced images of professional wrestling are used to visually represent affect Jen has on the two newcomers. She floors them.]
[🎵 The song at the evening pool party montage is ‘Gimme Back the Night (feat. Theophilus London)’ by Brodinski. Check out my playlist of songs in Revenge at the end of this review.]
0:11:51 To avoid the risk of mixing drugs and hunting, Richard instructs Jen to hide the peyote. She chooses the heart locket around her neck to stash her stash, and she does it with all of the close-up of a foreshadowing.
[🎵 The song playing Jen’s pool dance is Brodinski’s ‘Dance Like Machines’, also on the playlist at the end of the article.]
0:13:08 When Richard refuses to sexy dance with her, Jen dances with Stan. Well, she dances…and he’s a white French guy.
0:13:58 Richard interrupts the dance to sling Jen over his shoulder and carry her off to the bedroom. The party is as over as the wrestling shown on the telly.
0:14:20 The next morning, the temptation from the night before has turned rotten, just like Jen’s luck.
0:15:12 Stan explains to Jennifer that Richard will be away all morning on an errand and that Dimitri (asleep on an inner tube on in the pool) is nursing a hangover…which will take him all morning, as well. Jen receives this news with a smile as sincere as a porn star’s orgasm.
0:16:27 Brilliant directing and acting at the breakfast table between Vincent Colombe and Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz. All she does is open her phone to play a game and an entire conversation ensues with only their regards…
Stan: You teased me all night while we were partying and now we’re alone in the villa and I made this entire breakfast for you so we could get friendly before you finish what you started and you dare ignore me by playing a game on your phone?
Jen: What are you talking about? I’m here with Richard. I was only being friendly with you because you’re his friend.
Stan: Ah, so that’s the way it is. Fine, you go ahead and pack your bag but don’t forget to look at the symbolic apple on your way…
Imagine saying all of that with only your eyes!
Stan: What is it you don’t like about me?
Stan enters Jen’s room while she’s changing and confronts her about her implicit rejection of him. At this moment, what she likes least about him is the fact he’s alive…but things change.
[N.B. While Stan’s anger escalates, director Coralie Fargeat heightens the tension even more by including an almost inaudible musical outcry beneath the voices (the song is called ‘Rape pt. 1’ by Rob, the OST composer). This subtle use of sound is just one of the things that separates Revenge from the average rape-revenge film.]
0:20:25 If, like me, you’re squeamish, the rape scene begins here and continues until 22:48. If you want to skip ahead, the only thing you’ll miss is that Dimitri arrives and chooses not to get involved with what he knows is rape. I’ll see you at 22:48.
[N.B. What surprises about this film is that, on the surface, it’s a traditional rape and revenge story–which I’m against because it’s lazy filmmaking, as it’s easy for the director to generate sympathy for a helpless female victim, but hard for the viewer to watch. That said, Revenge is so well made that it transcends that concern. Also, to be fair, that it was directed by a woman aids enormously with that. Forgeat herself says, “For me, the rape is just one element of this movie. It’s the most extreme, powerful [moment] of everything that’s going to happen to this girl, but I really wanted the movie to be about her journey and how she transforms.”]
0:23:12 Richard returns.
Stan: Look, there was a little trouble with Jen.
By “little” I assume he’s talking about his penis.
0:24:28 Jen passes out and when she awakes….
Richard: I fixed everything. I made a few phone calls to find you a job…in Canada! It’s practically Los Angeles.
He tries to give her a check to buy her acquiescence. But Richard underestimates her. Just because she’s blonde, it doesn’t mean she’s dumb.
Jen: You call the goddamn helicopter or I’ll call your wife and tell her everything!
Richard punches her, knocking her down. Like a trucker drunk driving on a mountain pass, things just took a turn for the worse.
[🎵 The song playing while Stan and Dimitri watch Richard run after Jen through the back garden is Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467. See the playlist…]
0:25:58 Jen attempts to flee the villa barefoot on rocky terrain while being chased by the three men. They may not be related, but the sure take after her.
0:26:01 If you can’t beat them, run away.
0:26:14 Jen reaches the end of the line and becomes trapped between a rock and no place.
0:27:37 After pretending to call the helicopter for an early pickup (to gain her trust), Richard pushes Jen off the edge of the cliff. He got the drop on her, and she just got the drop.
0:30:56 An ant is bombarded by blood droplets dripping off of Jen’s body, in the interest of symbolism because, like Jen, the ant is small but resist-ant 🐜.
0:31:51 With a gasp, Jen comes back into consciousness, skewered on a stick and covered by insects who aren’t vegetarians.
[N.B. I know that, at this point, many viewers are screaming WTF, there’s no way she could’ve survived that. But frankly, that’s the film; it’s a 70s-style grindhouse femme-sploitation movie. If you can’t buy into the fact that she survives the fall and blood letting, then stop right now, this film isn’t for you–it has many more demands to make on your credulity.]
0:34:10 In order to dislodge herself from the stick she’s stuck on, she uses her nearby earbuds to pull her lighter within reach and burns the stump.
0:36:19 The instant the men arrive at the ledge to check on her corpse before their hunting excursion, Jen is able to pull herself directly beneath them, where she can’t be seen. She’s outta sight.
0:39:34 It takes until evening for the hunters to find a road down into the the canyon with their vehicles, and by the time they do, Jen has moved on. The men follow her blood trail to a river close by where the ground is wet but the trail is dry.
0:40:38 Richard goes upriver to look for her, Dimitri downriver, and Stan stays in case she returns. Like a surveillance camera in the bedroom and the toilet, they’ve got her coming and going.
0:44:25 Jen hides underwater while Dimitri passes her, then, while he takes the longest wee known to man (shake it more than twice and you’re playing with it), she sneaks up on him and grabs his hunting rifle. Now’s her shot!
0:45:04 This was a trap! Dimitri always looked a little challenged so we assume he’s the slowest person in the group, but no. He only pretended to take the longest wee known to man so that she had time to gather her courage and take the empty rifle he was using for bait. Dimitri radios to his mates that he has the girl and will take care of her before returning to the jeep (Stan’s location). Easier said than done, especially as he’s saying it in French.
[🎵 The song Stan listens to off of Jen’s iPod is “I’m in Love” by Jean Luc Leonardon. It’s on the playlist at the end of this article.]
0:46:16 WTF!? Instead of shooting Jen, Dimitri chooses to take her into the river and drown her for a long time, long enough that she has time to grab his hunting knife without his noticing (WTF!?) and jab it into his eye. He has a stabbing pain and Jen is one.
0:46:36 Dimitri dies from the injury to his brain, and Jen certainly feels lucky she could find it.
0:49:24 In a welcome bout of believability, Jen takes Dimitri’s ATV and rides it as far away from the men as possible, and doesn’t forget to take the rifle with her when the vehicle runs out of petrol. She’s intelligent, which makes the film so, as well.
0:50:20 Jen finds a cave to hole up in for the evening. She rummages through Dimitri’s backpack and finds ammunition, a flashlight, and some cans of beer. Sounds like a typical American Friday night…
0:52:45 In order to dull the pain enough to remove the stick still sticking from her, she eats the peyote, spits it out because of the taste, but then picks it up out of the dirt and eats it again because she knows she needs it. Her next surgery will be a delicate operation.
0:54:48 The peyote takes special effect.
[🎵The music she hears during her peyote trip is Symphony Nº 25 – Allegro con brio by Mozart. You’ll find it on the playlist.]
0:56:16 Jen (still under the effects of the peyote) opens up the empty beer can with the hunting knife, heats the blade with her lighter to sterilise it, then opens up the wound with the knife to withdraw the stick. That’s one way to branch out.
0:58:24 She then heats a section of the beer can over the fire, then places it on her open wound to cauterise it and stop the bleeding. This is all the more glorious for being so far over the top.
1:00:03 The next morning, Richard arrives at the jeep with some animal he’s hunted and rousts Stan from his sleep. While Richard tries to contact Dimitri with the walkie talkie, Stan goes to the river’s edge and urinates there before he washes his face in it. As though that weren’t WTF enough, while he’s washing his face in the shallow water, Dimitri’s waterlogged corpse just happens to make its first appearance. For me, the difference between an over-the-top directorial masterpiece and a WTF is that the former heightens my enjoyment of the film and the latter impedes it.
1:03:31 As the tension between the two men mounts, Richard and Stan fill Dimitri’s pockets with rocks and throw him into the river to hide his body.
Richard: We told him not to go hunting alone. The desert is sublime, but merciless with the careless.
Richard is working on the story they’ll tell the police to explain Dimitri’s disappearance. Too bad he didn’t work that hard on protecting Jen in the first place.
1:04:01 Then Richard punches Stan in the nose, breaking it, as retribution for earlier when Stan remarked they wouldn’t be in this mess if Richard hadn’t pushed Jen off the cliff. To be fair, that was an edgy comment.
1:05:33 Yes! The bird image on the beer can transferred itself into her stomach when she awakes the wound. Jen was just a bird, now she’s a bird of prey.
[N.B. Note the slight WTF that the words are all in the normal direction, whereas if they had been transferred into her skin, they would appear mirrored.]
1:06:22 In a regrettable dream sequence (far too easy a way to show action without consequence to the story), Richard shoots Jen in the face to help her clear her head.
1:06:50 A series of dream sequences inform us that this is, in fact, Jen’s peyote experience. Have a nice trip, Jen!
1:09:47 After she comes back from her trip, she exits the cave reborn as a bad ass.
[N.B. As part of the Hero’s Journey the protagonist must confront a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and come out stronger on the other side (Step 8: Ordeal). This is what Coralie Fargeat shows us here. As proof, the image of Jen’s arse is no longer that of a sex object (see 8:24), but a killing machine.]
1:12:01 Richard and Stan agree (against Stan’s better judgement), to split up and each search a different face of the mountain, making it an uphill battle.
1:15:21 Jen (carrying Dimitri’s hunting rifle) is surreptitiously following Stan’s Range Rover up a narrow mountain pass when he is forced to stop and refuel. The petrol is unleaded, at least until Jen starts shooting.
1:16:44 Jen squeezes off a shot from her hiding place but is not prepared for the recoil. Her shot, which only wings Stan, puts both of them on their arses.
1:17:48 In a wonderfully shot suspense scene, Stan is nowhere to be seen when Jen recovers from the rifle’s kick. She approaches the SUV, but he’s more disappeared than Prince William’s hairline.
1:18:42 Jen follows Stan’s blood trail up the narrow mountain pass, but Stan, still far enough ahead that they can’t see each other around the bends, removes one of his socks to use it as a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding and render himself ‘invisible’ by ending his blood line.
1:19:59 Stan, now hidden in the rocks above the road, watches Jen pass beneath him. He moves back to the road so he can line up a shot at her back…but his shoulder wound is so painful that this is nearly impossible. Hunting can be a pain, but is usually more so for the prey.
1:20:13 He gets a shot off, but his hand was shaking so badly he only shot off the bottom of her ear. She can now she money by buying earrings half-off.
1:20:44 Jen quick picks herself and her rifle up, then sprints up the dirt road with Stan in pursuit, firing off rounds that miss their mark as he’s running while he shoots. Plus, she is a very moving target.
1:22:15 In a scene so over the top it makes me giggle with pleasure, Jen purposefully shatters her flashlight on a rock, causing the glass lens to break. Stan fails to notice, so as he runs after Jen, he steps on a shard with the foot he made bare when he used his sock for a tourniquet. The extended scene where he has to rummage about the open, gushing wound with his fingers to remove the piece of glass will make you cringe more than Kanye. Ok, almost more than Kanye.
1:23:38 Yes! Stan hobbles back to his vehicle, but every time he presses on the accelerator with his injured foot to start the SUV, blood sprays or of the gash! This sort of directorial detail is what makes Revenge a cut above.
1:24:32 Again, with the bends in the twisty road used for maximum suspense, Jen begins to run from the sound of the approaching vehicle but then suddenly turns and, standing in the middle of the road, faces off against Stan. Her first shots miss but, at the last minute, she hits him and steps aside, letting the motor car pass her. Looks like Stan took a turn for the worse.
[N.B. One could argue that this is a WTF because Jen simply needs to step 2 feet off the road as Stan is incapable of walking with his hurt foot, thus she’d be able to shoot him from where she stood. One would be right.]
1:25:21 Jen confiscates Stan’s SUV. He won’t be needing it on the highway to hell.
[1:27:48 N.B. The 80s synth soundtrack (playing while Richard returns to the villa on his motorcycle after realising from the radio silence that Stan is now dead) is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Drive and made me laugh out loud in the cinema (despite being a slight anachronism in a film with such a 70s vibe). Yes, the soundtrack composer (Rob) uses synth throughout the film, but in this scene it’s significantly more prevalent.]
1:30:17 Richard returns to the villa and calls Roberto for an early pick-up in the helicopter. He figures now is a good time for him to take off.
1:36:33 & 37 Jen shows up at the villa and catches Richard with his pants down.
[EXCLUSIVE 🐣 When Richard first notices Jen has the drop on him and is staring at her, there’s an advert on the telly for a shopping website called Shop Club USA or SCUSA and the url, which is repeated loudly, is MySCUSA.com. ‘Scusa’ is Italian for ‘Sorry’, and has all the more signification when you remember the lead actress Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz is Italian, from Milan (and so why wouldn’t her character be?).
Another 🐣, note that the glass door Jen is aiming at Richard through has a blue tint, whereas when Stan was looking at Jen when he arrived (see 6:54), he did so through a pink door. Blue is for boys and pink is for girls.]
1:36:57 Just as Richard tells Jen to ‘Listen’ she lets her rifle do the talking.
1:40:24 Richard binds his wound with cling wrap to keep it fresh. He’s wrapping it up to go.
Richard: Women always have to put up a fucking fight!
She jabs her hand through the cellophane and into his wound to prove his point.
1:43:23 The film ends, as we hoped it must, when Jen shoots Richard in the gut with her high powered rifle. Richard can’t stomach anything any more.
- WTF!?’s: 8 with a vengeance
- When to Follow: When you want to watch politically correct action / gore with your significant other. Revenge is fun for the entire couple (but lock the kids in their bedrooms).
- Where’s This Found: In a world so full of Marvel and Star Wars sequels that they’re beginning to look like remakes, Revenge lands on the scene like a rusty grenade with no pin. It’s the Reservoir Dogs of this generation. This year’s Raw. Coralie Fargeat makes a Tarantino-esque film for our time and for the #MeToo heroines. I know that many will complain about how unbelievable the action is, and to those I would refer them back to their Marvel and their Star Wars reruns and tell them to leave us alone while we live it all the way up to 11. Out of a possible 10, I have 8 F’s to give
- What To Feedback: Which female lead kicks the most arse?
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