Revenge movie review: A slow burn vengeance drama for the #MeToo era

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In the new flick Revenge, a woman aims to get vengeance on a man who victimizes women.  The result is a  slow-burn experience that is a timely entry during the #MeToo movement.

Revenge films can take many forms in the movie industry. Some can be formulaic, especially in the Hollywood industry. Others can be chilling and brutal much like the South Korean masterpiece Oldboy. In the new film Revenge–Norwegian title Hevn– director Kjersti Steinsbø has taken a very subdued grounded approach to the genre and tackled a timely issue in our current world–sexual assault. This makes Revenge a solid addition to the discussion of the #MeToo movement and hearing victims.

What happens when we can’t protect someone who has been hurt? How does one give a voice to those without one? These are all familiar topics in the #MeToo conversation.

Even more so, what would happen if someone took their life over it? These are the issues of Steinsbø’s film and they are expertly addressed in Revenge.

The film centers on Rebekka (Siren Jørgensen) who is visiting a hotel by the Norwegian fjords under a false identity. The hotel is owned by a married couple who welcome her into their stay with open arms. She claims she is a journalist attempting to do a piece on the hotel but her underlying motives are quite different. The man (Frode Winther) she believes raped her sister years ago, which caused her sister to commit suicide, is there. Rebekka seeks retribution for her sister’s pain and untimely death by any means necessary.

Unlike most films based around vengeance, Revenge does not seek to make this about the thrills or killing people. This is a film that really takes its time to dissect characters and explore the unraveling of all their secrets. For some viewers, this could be frustrating if expecting bloodshed or a thrill ride. That said, this is a film where patience is the ultimate reward because it’s only after everything builds that the film becomes masterfully uncomfortable.

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It’s also one of the more realistic depictions of revenge on film. In real life, it’s not going to be an Uma Thurman violence fest to get her bad guy. Characters have to make real-life choices that can have real-life consequences.  Most of this is played out with slow planning manipulation and honestly, a lot of Rebekka’s choices are extremely smart and make sense.

Where the film truly shines though is how poignant it is about the troubling aspects of not hearing victims out. Young girls throughout the story have experienced questionable situations with this man and some of his friends were quick to take his side either because he was a good friend or he gaslighted the public into believing the victim was just seeking attention–or claiming they are just crazy. It’s after Rebekka manipulates him into revealing his true nature that the loved ones around him start questioning those past claims.

Revenge #MeToo
Revenge #MeToo /

If there are any nits to pick it would be the patience needed for all the story mechanisms to pay off. The film takes a careful time dwelling in moments of character and letting the tension build. This can be tedious at times but when the second half of the film kicks into gear it’s all worth it. It’s just an uphill climb before the freefall finally kicks in with glorious precision.

On the technical side, the film is well shot embracing the Norwegian mountain scenery. Anna Myking–who did the cinematography– takes full advantage of the location and really brings the beauty of this setting to life. Composer Michael White did a decent job setting the tone for this film but the interesting aspect of Revenge is how most of the moments were embraced with quietness to absorb the viewer in character.

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Revenge is a slow burn film about vengeance that will resonate with audiences during the timely subject of the #MeToo movement. It’s impactful, depicting the dangers of not hearing victims out and the long-term effects it has on those ignored. The story itself is a gradual character-driven experience that will reward its audience with diligence for the inevitable dreadful payoff.

Revenge will have a theatrical run on Friday, August 17, in L.A and other cities and will continue for 1-2 weeks.