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Revenge — off the leash and off the chart

Revenge — off the leash and off the chart

May 10
10:59 2018

Matilda Lutz and Kevin Janssens in ‘Revenge’

Revenge is a fabulously deranged action thriller written and directed by France’s Coralie Fargeat. A tangy, **** inferno, it is an essay in érotique voilée in which the voiles are scanty at best and shredded to nearly nothing by the end.

Reviewers have rightly lauded the fierce and crypto-feminist ingenuity with which Fargeat makes her heroine (Matilda Lutz) turn tables on a nasty boyfriend (Kevin Janssens) and his two hunting pals. One of those assaulted her in the couple’s plush, glassy, mid-desert mansion. (The film was shot in Morocco, though it isn’t named.) She is left for dead after a very final-seeming murder attempt. But “Fargeat” must be French for “far-fetched and loving it”. Will the nubile girl escape, barely clothed but leather-bikini’d, to perpetrate a grisly payback?

With the scenic infinities of sand and rock, the trompe l’oeil modern villa and (final reel) the flying blood and viscera, we could be in some Salvador Dalí daylight hallucination given narrative oomph by Leone or Peckinpah. The film knows it’s off the grid, off the leash and, for climactic violence, off the chart. That’s its strength. So is a visual and conceptual wit that will make you giggle between gasps. (Note the insect motif. Note the shopping-channel running gag.) At best Revenge is Wonder Woman made terrestrial: a piece of radical feminist cheek blown through by earthly winds and populist pep. And I haven’t even detailed the ithyphallic symbolism of the girl’s near-death ordeal, another mark on the map of impish, impudent semiotic mastery.


The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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