"Revanche" DVD, Blu-ray Review (2010)

2/17/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Review


Directed by Gotz Spielmann, Written by Spielmann, 120 minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Revanche" opens with a shot of a deep forest reflected in a pond. Something suddenly falls and breaks the surface, with the ensuing splash sending ripples in all directions. Such a small splash can change so many things without notice.

The film follows several days in the lives of Alex (Johannes Krisch) and Robert (Andreas Lust). Alex works for Konecny, a man who owns and runs a brothel in Vienna, and who is unaware of a secret relationship between Alex and Tamara, an illegal Ukrainian immigrant working as a prostitute for Konecny. She is deeply in debt and fears she will never be able to leave her sorry life. Alex takes trips to a small village on the outskirts of the village every so often to take care of his ill grandfather (Johannes Thanheiser) and his farm.

Robert lives in a large house neighboring the farm, and he works as a policeman in Vienna. His wife has recently had a miscarriage and Robert learns he may now be infertile. He fears his wife, parents and colleagues have no faith in him.

One day Alex comes up with a scheme to rob a local bank. Everything goes according to plan and he goes in and out without trouble. But life is unpredictable. As Alex flees with Tamara in their getaway car to find a new life, Robert happens upon them and fires at their car. Tamara is accidentally shot and killed.

The film explores the aftermath of this failed heist, and, like life, the film never goes where you quite expect it. A lot of time is spent developing the psychology of the two men, so much so that every action before and after the heist feels completely believable. Alex's immediate reaction is to seek revenge on Robert, who he expects feels no remorse for his actions--little does he know that the guilt tears him apart, but he only wonders why the masked bank robber had his girlfriend with him in the first place. Neither of the two realize what the other is going through, and this one tragic moment spreads to their friends and families as well.

"Revanche" is a term that means retaliation or revenge, but it also means to regain lost territory or standing. This is no simple revenge or heist film. The characters struggle to get back the life they had before everything was put in upheaval. You may think you know what the characters are going to do in certain moments, but like life and like the seemingly perfectly planned heist, the film simply isn't predictable. Because people aren't predictable. Robert and Alex both think that they can understand what the other feels or plans to do, but the actions of the mind just cannot be so easily guessed.

The film is beautifully directed by Gotz Spielmann, who really made a splash himself when the film premiered in 2008. It opened to critical acclaim and went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film last year, and it's pretty easy to say it earned it. The film could go in so many wrong directions, but it surprises you at every turn with how truthful it is, both in character and theme.

"Revanche" is a deeply effective and soulful work, and there's no film from the last few years about struggles with guilt I could recommend more highly.

Grade: A

View the Red Band international trailer for "Revanche" below. What are your thoughts?

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes