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Revenge (2017) Blu Ray (Vertigo Releasing)

Raped and left for dead

Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz plays Jen, the mistress of the wealthy, handsome Richard (Kevin Janssens). He has taken her along with him to his desert villa, where he has organised a hunting expedition with his buddies Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dmitri (Guillaume Bouchède). During a small pre-hunt soirée, Jen performs a sexy dance in front of the three men without realising that Stan is clearly lusting after her.

Matilda Lutz and Kevin Janssens in Revenge

The next day, Stan follows her into the bedroom in an attempt to seduce her. When he brushes her off, he doesn’t take it very well and decides to rape her. When Richard returns, he finds her lying in bed in tears. When she confesses what Stan has done, Richard says that he will take care of it. Later on, after Jen has slept for some time, Richard tells her that he has arranged her paid work in Canada and a helicopter ride out of there - in exchange for her opting to forget about the whole incident. This only makes her angry and compels her to threaten to tell his wife about their affair. Richard aggressively responds by hitting and berating her.

Jen suddenly runs away and the three men decide to pursue her. However, she comes to a dead end when she reaches a cliff face. Richard decides that the best way to resolve the situation is to push her off a cliff, thus meaning that she will never tell anyone about her ordeal. When she reaches the bottom, her fall is broken by a tree and she gets impaled through the stomach on one of the branches. The three men leave her for dead and Richard proposes that they simply clear up the mess as part of the hunting trip.

However, their nefarious plans are thrown into disarray because Jen does, in fact, survive the fall - and manages to extricate herself from the tree, albeit with a piece of branch still protruding from her stomach. As she regains her composure, a game of cat-and-mouse ensues where the hunters are in serious danger of becoming the hunted.

Watch a trailer:

A beautiful but primal piece of art

Revenge is an arthouse feminist (as you might have guessed) revenge tale which plays like I Spit on your Grave as reimagined by Nicolas Winding Refn or Stanley Kubrick. While some might accuse it of being little more than a case of style over substance, they would be missing the point. The style IS the substance here. It’s right there in the contrast of the imagery; the glossy magazine slickness of the cinematography and production design is pitted off against the primal savagery of copious bloodshed and microcosmic close-ups of insects.

It’s an agonising, uncomfortably slow-burning gorefest and, more profoundly, an artistic snapshot of Western society’s commodification of women. At the start, Jen (played with commendable range, poise and intensity by Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is a purely male-pleasing depiction of womanhood. She dresses sexily, her hair is died blonde, she dances flirtatiously for the approval of the three men, and she seems to willingly service every demand - be she giving her boyfriend a blow job, or putting away a small piece of peyote for their safekeeping. In the latter case, however, we begin to notice her acting according to her own instincts by stowing it away in her heart-shaped locket.

Once she is violated, pushed off a cliff and left for dead, she changes radically. Her hair darkens after being sodden with her own blood. When she cauterises her wound with a flattened piece of metal from a beer can, the label’s insignia of an eagle forms as a tattoo over her stomach. Her man pleasing-beauty stripped away, she is now (metaphorically) free to fly.

Even if you don’t pick up the subtext, Revenge is a consummate piece of human horror with an inventive mastery of both tension and the painful reality of violent injuries. There are two protracted gunfights here, both of which leave the participants trailing blood over the ground for several minutes as they physically struggle to gain an advantage over their opponent. Part of an ear is blown off, leaving the victim hearing nothing but white noise. A man steps on a piece of shattered glass, resulting in a gaping, perpetually-bleeding, vaginal wound in the sole of his foot.

However, the early rape scene is arguably the most restrained, yet tellingly disturbing moment. When Stan attempts to violate Jen, he is briefly interrupted by Dmitri. However, rather than intervene to help her, the latter simply chews a sweet in slo-mo close-up, reflecting how his friend is devouring Jen in a similarly gluttonous manner. After this, the rest of the ordeal is seen and not heard, as Dmitri walks around the villa’s beautiful poolside area, blissfully indifferent to what is going on. While little is shown on screen, the attitude displayed towards it truly sends chills down the spine.

Revenge is an energised, confrontational, alternately beautiful and ugly movie. It’s one of the year’s must-sees.

Runtime: 108 mins

Dir: Coralie Fargeat

Script: Coralie Fargeat

Starring: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède, Jean-Louis Tribes

Blu Ray Audio-Visual

The imagery and colours look stunning, the soundtrack pin-sharp.

Extras

There’s nothing apart from a trailer here, folks.

Overall:

The film’s an absolute must for those who think they can stomach it. However, it’s a pity about the lack of extras here. It would have been nice to, at very least, have a director interview.

Movie: ☆☆☆☆☆

Video: ☆☆☆☆☆

Audio: ☆☆☆☆☆

Extras: ☆

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