DVD review – Revanche

Revanche Art Eye cover
Revanche, nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar® in 2009 is the sort of movie that Hollywood thinks it should remake and then strips ever last bit of intelligence out of.

The tale of Alex (Johannes Krisch), ex-con, and now working as an assistant in a Viennese brothel is a compelling one, full of unexpected little twists and ultimately satisfying without ending in any kind of grand climax.

Alex is in love with a Ukrainian prostitute Tamara (Irina Potapenko), who works at the brothel. Deeply protective of her, his main concern is to keep her safe so that they can run away to Spain.

Meanwhile, Susanne (Ursula Strauss) is married to police officer Robert (Andreas Lust). They have a beautiful house, complete with an empty nursery, as their attempts to conceive a baby seemed doomed to failure.

When Alex hatches a plan to get enough money so that he and Tamara can run away to Spain, the lives of the four entwine, causing the events that push Alex towards the revenge of the title. What makes Revanche such a brilliant movie, and well-deserving of its Oscar® nomination last year, is that it doesn’t make cheap choices with the characters lives. While Tamara is a prostitute, there is no overt titillation in the scenes at the brothel. When a punter is asked to “soften her up” by her pimp, it all occurs off camera, with Alex coming to her rescue in the nick of time. She’s not played as a tart with a heart, nor is Alex a dupe or hard man.

Indeed the writer/director Götz Spielmann has managed to avoid most of the obvious clichés this story could have fallen into. It’s a beautifully paced tale too, which deliberately confounds our expectations. It’s not afraid to take its time to tell the story. The interplay between the two couples is well-written and believable, and the performances especially from Krisch and Strauss are infused with real depth and emotion.

Shot in muted, pastel tones, not in keeping with our expectations of this story, there is a soft focus to this tale. None of the key characters are idealised and there are no high dramatics. This plays out like real life and the honesty is compelling.

So far Hollywood has kept its grubby mitts off this story; let’s hope it stays that way.

Revanche was released on DVD by Artificial Eye on the 9th August.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on August 17, 2010.

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