“Why am I not your type?” Ah, rape/revenge films – I often avoid these with no interest in watching them. I have nothing against them, but my poor stomach and heart can’t handle them. But I had heard so many wonderful things about Revenge that I knew I had to give it a shot. I finally settled down and watched it and it filled me with fire. But like…in a good way.
Released in 2017 originally and joining Shudder’s lineup in 2018, it is written and directed by Coralie Fargeat. This is her debut film. As we live in this wonderful time of #metoo and gain courage to stand up and say “hey fuckface, you don’t get to say/do/touch that”, Revenge is like our clever sign at a protest. We can safely live vicariously through a woman hand delivering payback and violence to men. It’s exactly the right time for this film. Especially as we watch court rooms let men go free because the woman was “asking for it” by the way she dresses or acts. Fargeat plays on that – she introduces Jen as a sexy, blond, lollipop sucking flirt. She knows what you’re thinking when you see her. And she instantly toys with your expectations of how a woman looks and what you should expect.
That also plays a huge part by the end in the way Jen looks at the beginning vs her warrior, dirt and blood covered figure at the end.
Jen, played by Matilda Lutz, arrives at a remote getaway in the middle of the dessert with her boyfriend. He’s married with kids, but Jen and Richard aren’t going to worry about that this weekend.
Their weekend takes a turn though when Richard’s hunting buddies arrive unannounced to the party. They spend the evening drinking and dancing by the pool with Jen the center of attention. The next morning Stanley corners Jen, assuming her behavior the night before was an open invitation. Through an awkward exchange that is every woman’s nightmare, Stanley cannot fathom why Jen is not attracted to him. When she tries to be polite and tell him that he’s simply not her type, instead of walking away, he asks “why not?”. I’m pretty sure every woman has been in this horrible situation and I genuinely felt traumatized watching it. This happened to me on a train once. And the man grabbed my wrist and started rubbing my skin with his fingers, insisting I give him an answer. This was a complete stranger who had approached me unwelcome. Luckily for me, it was a crowded train and I managed to pull away and run off at the next stop. But Jen is not as lucky. Stanley forces himself on Jen and rapes her.
Her boyfriend, Richard, decides it’s best to pay her off for her silence. But Jen just wants to go home and when she threatens to call Richard’s wife if he doesn’t call for the helicopter, he smacks her to the ground. Jen decides it’s time to run and the three men chase her to the edge of a cliff. After a terrifying minute, Jen is shoved to her death, pierced by a tree. The men leave her thinking she’s dead, but Jen isn’t dead, she’s bloody and destroyed but she’s alive and about to seek revenge.
So, let’s talk about it!
This is a flick that makes me just want to watch it over and over and discover all the hidden secrets within the creation. Some of the things that stood out to me were the shift in colors. From the beginning where it’s girly, purples, pinks, blues really makes the second half of the flick so jarring when it switches. No longer soft pastels, it’s now a harsh desert with bright red blood and bright orange sand.
The word revenge is genuinely so powerful in this film as Jen stalks these men across the desert. They all penetrated her in some form or another, and so she penetrates them back. With gun shots to the shoulder, knives through the head, and glass into the foot. It is the hunted vs the hunter. The two men show up with guns and are described as hunting buddies. Ironically only to become the hunted by Jen.
Lutz gives an incredibly physical performance in this flick. Every single painful moment, you feel it yourself, watching it. She deserves to be right at the top of the final girl list for going through what she went through in this movie. I mean, how the hell does one woman get pierced by a tree, bitten by ants, shot through the ear, punched in the face etc etc and still get up and keep on moving. It’s insane. I get bit by a spider and have to go to the doctor and rest for two days.
But what I think is great, is that Fargeat is showing us that it’s possible for all of us to have this inner strength. That when it comes down to it, we too could rip a tree branch out of our stomach and stalk three men across a desert. There’s obviously no need to point out the obvious symbolism of the phoenix being cauterized onto her wound but it is a beautiful moment. I mean she’s literally rising from the ashes. She’s reborn from a young woman with some vague dreams of LA to a female warrior.
The final showdown back in the house between Richard and Jen is intense. There’s blood EVERYWHERE. They’re slipping and sliding in puddles of blood all over the floor, there’s smears of blood on the wall, it’s completely over dramatic. But at this point you’re 100% all in and you’re not even questioning the shocking amount of blood. You’re ready for this finale.
Overall, Revenge was a joy to watch. As much of a “joy” as this type of film can be. The beginning makes me feel sick and reminds me of so many experiences we have all faced as women. But when Jen pulls herself off of that tree, I begin to enjoy myself.
Cannot wait to watch it again and I will absolutely recommend this to every woman I know. And to be honest, I already have….