Director: Götz Spielmann Release Date: 30/04/10 Review by Newell Hampson-Jones I think a disclaimer is needed before you read this review. This film was nominated in 2009 for an Oscar. It has been widely praised for being a “gripping thriller and a tragic drama of nearly Greek proportions”. Critics seem to love it. Well, I’m sorry. I disagree. And I hope that the following will present a fair argument as to why I found the 122 minutes spent watching this film some of the most frustrating and mind-numbing I have ever had the pain to endure. Revanche is, as wonderfully put above, an Austrian thriller centring on how the lives of 5 individuals clash after a “tragic” incident. Tamara (Irina Potapenko) is a Ukrainian prostitute forced to work in the brothels of Vienna. She and her lover Alex (Johannes Krisch), an errand boy for the brothel’s owner, are in an illicit affair-hiding their romance due to their boss’ disdain for inter-work relationships. Alex and Tamara decide to rob a bank in a sleepy Austrian town close to where Alex’s grandfather lives, alone on his farm. During the robbery, a local police officer hungry for a bit of excitement, Robert, (Andreas Lust) stumbles in to them and, as they are escaping, fires on the car and kills Tamara. Alex flees to his grandfather’s farm, deep in grief and emotional trauma at the death of the one he loves to cut wood in preparation for the Autumn which is where he meets Susanne who lives near the farm and-surprise, surprise-happens to be Robert’s wife. Knowing Robert lives so close, Alex plots his revenge (geddit?), to vindicate the injustice of Tamara’s death. Sounds like a pretty good film doesn’t it? I was quite looking forward to it, especially when the phrase “Greek tragedy” was used in conjunction with it. And that is where the myriad of problems begin; this is nowhere near a Greek tragedy. The murder doesn’t happen off-screen, the film wasn’t composed in verse meters, the actors were not all male and didn’t wear masks, there was no singing, dancing Greek chorus-I could go on for hours. This was not, in any way, shape or form a Greek tragedy. So why cast these ridiculous aspersions? The only reason can be out of some pretentious, mock-intellectualism to try and make the director sound like he is an “artist” and not an absolute wanker who has no idea what a Greek tragedy-or any sort of tragedy - is. In fact it’s this bullshit, student tosspottery which gives independent and international cinema a bad reputation as the bastard son of modernism trying to purposely confuse the masses so that the intellectuals can have a wank in front of a mirror about how smart they are. Can we please, please all agree to stop raping the genre of tragedy-a beautiful genre when done well-with shite that doesn’t even resemble it? A Greek dancing chorus would have been a bloody great addition to this film. Going back to the film itself, part of the reason why it stirred up so much boredom comes from the poorly written characters which must have been-at best-sketched out on a napkin. Alex and Tamara are in love, but nowhere do I really see any true love, merely a relationship where she will fuck him for coke and he can pretty much control what she does. We can ignore the moments where Alex tries to scare the shit out of the one he “loves” as misguided and odd playfulness, but I would like to sit down and have a long, serious talk to anyone who thinks that you can honestly say you love someone if you are withholding their passport from them and they don’t know where you were born. Now, it might just be me, but if I’m going to have any empathy for you as a character or remotely care about your “grief” then I need to think that you actually cared for her. Further evidence of this complete lack of any deep, meaningful connection comes from the scene where he leaves her body in the car where she was shot. The synopsis says that Alex is “overcome with grief”. OK, if that’s the case then how come you were able to have the mental awareness to adjust your clothing in case anyone recognises you-mental awareness which could have saved her life earlier had you done that instead of waving your unloaded gun around like a flaccid, infertile cock at a gangbang. Regardless of this, surely the idea that you are “overcome” with grief is that you cannot think rationally, therefore little details like that could be overlooked? The final straw for me came later on in the film when, well I don’t want to spoil it but there is some pretty pointless sex which pretty much fucks up (pardon the pun) any hope of me thinking he loved this girl and really wasn’t needed in the script at all except to possibly show off some floppy tits and give Alan Titchmarch more source material for his next book. Revanche is riddled with so many overused clichés that I caught myself predicting them so that I could get even a little bit of entertainment out of the film. The first hour mainly consisted of me going: “Surprise! The prostitute is on coke!”, “Surprise! The brothel owner is a creepy bastard!”, “Surprise! The bank robbery goes wrong!” Well that last one is unfair, because it is central to the plot, but seriously, is there something wrong with originality these days? How many times do I have to see independent films use prostitution as a metaphor for society as a whole? I get it! You’re angry that original creativity isn’t widely accepted as much as Hollywood shite! I agree although note that you make this argument without actually being original in any way. But you don’t need to ram it down my throat like…well here’s where I’d use my own prostitution similie. With all that’s been said so far, I have to admit, that the performances weren’t all awful. The female characters were played well, any fault with them I’d say is the fault of the writer/director not the acting talent, although someone really needs to tell Ursula Strauss to wear a bra. Frankly, I’m surprised no-one tripped over those chebs and they seemed to move within a gravity that is different to ours. Andreas Lust was actually pretty good, almost enough to make this film mildly watchable on an evening when you’re choices are limited to this, Hollyoaks or smashing your face in with a frying pan. His portrayal was an actual character journey and what little we saw of him was perfectly played. Any marks earned by this film solely lie at his door and his performance, it was that good, but he criminally gets the least screen-time of all the main characters. Then there’s Johannes Krisch, in his first leading performance. Like his director, he seems to have borrowed a lot of clichés for his character. His look is basically styled upon Robert Carlyle playing Begbie (most disturbing considering some scenes) and he has on his back the tattoo of a drunk, American college girl on Spring Break in Cancun who’s drunk too much tequila which has been spiked with rohypnol. It is the worst tattoo I have ever seen in my entire life. Seriously, no man should have this tattoo. His performance was awful, too. When he’s in the care “grieving” I didn’t know whether he was trying to underplay it or hold in a loud, guttural fart. And his sex scenes? The man kisses a woman’s body like I eat cake. He thrusts like C-3PO would if he finally got to give it to Luke like he always dreamed. If this man was in some sort of Eurovision song contest for fucking, he’d be as bad as Jemini. So to sum up, yeah, I hated the film, I loathed it. That being said, Andreas Lust is the sole bright spark and, if you do still want to see this film-this pretentious, dragging, emotionally constipated dirge of a film, you will enjoy his performance and wish there was more time devoted to him and less to our protagonist. Photobucket