French Film Festival Review: Revenge

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Revenge is a proudly feminist bloodbath from Parisian filmmaker Coralie Fargeat with the evils of victim-blaming in its cross-hairs!

When Richard (Kevin Janssens) arrives at his secluded desert villa with his mistress, Jen (Matilda Lutz), their debauched weekend is interrupted by two of Richard’s mates, Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède), who arrive at the villa unannounced. The next day, things turn ugly when Jen rejects Stan’s advances. Enraged, he rapes her whilst Richard is away from the villa and Dimitri chooses to ignore her screams rather than help her. Upon his return, Richard attempts to cover up the assault and when his plan fails, he tries to kill her by throwing her off a cliff. Unfortunately for all three of these monstrous predators, Jen survives the fall and proceeds to hunt them down and kill them one by one.

And Jen’s revenge is bloody as hell with so much blood being spilled during the devastating carnage that the prop department apparently ran out of fake blood. This is the kind of bloodshed only the French can give us and fits nicely alongside other films in the sub-genre known as French extremity like High tension, Inside and Martyrs. The violence is stomach churning and hard to watch with one scene involving a character removing a shard of glass from his own foot leading to one audience member suffering a seizure during a screening of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

But Revenge has so much more on its mind than just blood and violence. Coralie Fargeat uses her directorial debut to make a powerful statement on victim blaming. In the real world, Jen’s behaviour throughout the first act of Revenge like dressing provocatively and dancing sensually with Stan the night before he raped her, would open her up to accusations of being at least partially responsible for her own assault.

She would be met with the same criticisms levelled at women when they try to speak out about sexual assault like if she had dressed modestly and didn’t “lead him on” nothing would have happened.

And by its blood-soaked conclusion, Revenge has made its message clear: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT SHE WORE OR WHAT SHE DID, IT’S NEVER HER FAULT!

Reviewed by Jordan Ellis

Revenge screens as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.
Click here for screening times.

A bloody and confronting work 4.5 stars

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