Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Revenge is Smart, Stylish and a Bloody Good Time

Read my thoughts on Revenge!

I finally moved into my first house in 2017. After moving in the flat screen television, we moved the second most important item to the family room: the sofa. I knew that I would be spending many nights on this sofa, watching horror movies. Consequently, a year later, this same couch became the very place, I watched one of the bloodiest films I’ve ever seen. Revenge was written and directed by the talented and beautiful Coralie Fargeat. In several interviews, she reveals some of the challenges she faced finding financing to make this film, especially being a female writer with this type of story. Let me share with you the premise of the film, which will strike fear into the hearts of many men.

Revenge introduces us to three wealthy, middle-aged men who meet for their annual hunting trip in a desert. This year, Richard (Kevin Janssens) decides to bring along his mistress Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz), who catches the eye of the other two men attending the extravagant retreat. Stan (Vincent Colombe) is overly intrigued with her, and at Richard’s trip to town, Stan advances on her without her consent. Cloaked behind money and privilege, the three men decide to cover Stan’s evil exploit and push Jen over a cliff. But resilience surfaces in Jen. And despite a broken branch protruding from her stomach, she begins her search for safety. When the men return to retrieve her body, they soon discover that she is neither where they left her, nor how they left her. Revenge is now her purpose.

The film beautifully showcases the vastness and loneliness of the desert. Cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert was perfect at capturing this dynamic. His work can be seen in Black and the upcoming Bad Boys for Life. However, in Revenge, he presents long shots of beautiful landscapes that kept you abreast of the action happening within this unfamiliar land. Then, he offers closeups of blood gushing from wounds that will make your stomach turn. What I appreciate most from his work is the B-roll, which serves the purpose of heightening the appeal of the story and movie. Often times, I find other cinematographers offering visual beauty with no clear purpose to the story.
Another necessity I appreciated from this film was that women and men were equally exposed, both physically and mentally. Yes, their strengths and insecurities unveiled before us, but it is not often that you witness a man’s figure revealed as much as a woman’s. This is one of the equalities I often observe with female directors. Even if we turn our attention from the nudity to the clothing, costume designer Elisabeth Bornuat excelled at bringing sexy to the characters’ wardrobes. I’m not sure if director Fargeat or Bornuat is responsible for the iconic, pink star earrings; but whoever chose those is a genius. Bornuat adorned Janssens in striking blue biker gear, and blessed Lutz with a blue, pink and black two-pice swimsuit. That ensemble accentuated Lutz’s shape perfectly and made her the desire of viewers on and off camera.

Furthermore, there was little reservation to covering women or men in abundant amounts of blood. No one was safe. And thanks to special makeup effects artist Laetitia Quillery, we witnessed both sexes’ bodies become increasingly bloody and battered as the movie progressed. Obviously, being a woman, I drew to the female character remaining alive after this bloodbath. Even one of my favorite songs from the film was entitled Woman Hero, and I played that track as a morning ritual for months after watching this film.

Robin Coudert is responsible for the soundtrack, which is an electronic wonderland infused with 808s, pianos, and a slew of other sounds. This French pop/rock musician, singer, songwriter, and producer is also responsible for the music in Maniac (2012) and Horns (2013). In Revenge, he interchanges tempos, even within the same track, propelling you from pleasure to panic.

His sound was the perfect backdrop to a film expressing female empowerment. Truthfully, there are many parts to a woman. We are sexy. We are fun. We are smart. We are understanding. And when necessary, we can express that “don’t screw with me” persona. Revenge expresses all of these things, which is why I urge you to watch and re-watch it, over and over.

And let’s not forget the copious amounts of blood. After watching this film, I felt like I needed a shower because I was certain some of the blood from the film spilled on me. And after that shower, I wanted to put on a business suit and go out and run the world because of what women can do. I believe this film will make you feel equally empowered and sexy, no matter who you are.

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