(Release Info London schedule; May 2nd, 2018,.Rio Cinema, 18:30)
Richard (Kevin Janssens), Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède), three wealthy, married family men, get together for their annual hunting game in a desert canyon. But this time, one of them has brought with him his young mistress Jen (Matilda Lutz), a sexy 'Lolita', who quickly arouses the interest of the two others. Things get dramatically out of hand. Left for dead in the middle of a desert hell, the young woman comes back to life and their hunting game turns into a ruthless manhunt.
"Revenge" is the story of the sloughing of a woman. A young, frivolous and naïve 'Lolita', subject to men’s desires and which men only see as a sexual object. An object which has to satisfy their desire. Even if it means dying. Even though she doesn’t die physically, the character dies symbolically. Physically wounded, this sweet and inconsequential doll will be reborn as a harsh, beastly and unforgiving woman. One that no one nor anyone can manipulate or abuse. At first weak and superficial, the character blooms into a wounded but strong woman who, by drawing up her revenge, will end up taking control over her life again. On a different level, it’s really about symbolizing the sloughing of a certain way women are represented in films; too often viewed as a foil or a sexual object which one undresses or belittles, the film plays at the beginning with this representation which it pushes to it's fullest in order to switch it brutally the other way round. The character thus becomes the strong figure of the film, a female super hero and the driving force of the action. This sloughing is deliberately radical.
The film wants to be as powerful as it's unpredictable. A new character is reborn on this branch. A skin which she takes off and which she leaves behind. Molded around 'The Myth Of The Phoenix', which rises from the ashes and controls fire more and more at each resurrection; Jen wakes up transformed and possessed by a new strength. As if she has fed off the violence which has struck down against her in able to find a new incarnation. The highly uncluttered narrative thread aims to shed light on the symbolic and initiatory dimension of the film which will be powerfully conveyed by it's staging. For it's indeed the staging of the story which is at the very core of "Revenge’s" narrative. A staging which will submerge the spectator into a harsh, carnal, highly sensory, hostile and violent world. Pure genre which instills an atmosphere which makes you feel, a world which multiplies sensations, a total immersion into a sensory whirlwind caught between phantasmagoria and reality.
As the story moves forward, the dialogues become more and more scarce until disappearing completely, simply replaced by sound, images and sensations. Music is the keystone of this hellish experience which grows more and more harsh and hostile. A repetitive and hypnotic score strongly tainted with electro which progressively puts one in a trance like those of John Carpenter, Etienne Jaumet or Thomas Banglater. The film references span from "Sailor" and "Lula To Drive", "Under The Skin" and the films of David Cronenberg. True carnal and diehard genre filmmaking in which violence and dreams co-exist and where the strength of symbols literally explodes. Until now, this type of filmmaking has been made practically exclusively by men. To explore the genre is not a position or a statement. It's the possibility of evocative power, of sensations, of fears and frights. A truly philosophical dimension which passes through a highly symbolic, playful and sensory media. "Revenge" can finally be perceived as the sloughing of a certain way genre films are embodied.
It's action-suspense with plenty of surprises and reversals of fortune and a lot of blood. It's in the finest 'French Grand Guignol' tradition, alongside such films as "Lancelot Of The Lake" and "Haute Tension". Although transpiring in a decidedly more hospitable climate and over a much smaller area, the film has unmistakable similarities to "The Revenant". The main character left for dead who manages to self-recover through agonizingly painful procedures to embark on a payback quest. Her transformation from a philandering husband's sex kitten mistress to a semiautomatic-wielding vengeance machine is most impressive. The film is written and directed by Coralie Fargeat, and she definitely makes a convincing case that women can play hardball as well as men can. The plot is straightforward, but the execution is anything but paint-by-numbers. If you've ever enjoyed a revenge flick, you will definitely like this. While exploitation revenge flicks are common since it's birth with "I Spit On Your Grave", "Naked Vengeance" and "Savage Streets", the film gives us not only the same concept of rape revenge but what makes "Revenge" unique is it's style and tone that's thankfully done perfect with it's cinematography and camera work. There are moments of surreal imagery, graphic wounds and bloody kills. This is a brutal, gritty, taut film. The climax is excellent.