Movie Review : Revenge (2015)
This isn’t Coralie Fargeat’s brutal and gory movie everyone’s been talking about, this year. Full disclosure: I thought it was when I first accepted to review it. I didn’t find out until I pressed PLAY. But I kept watching. I figured a lady with a butcher knife, Norwegian landscapes and the pen of Ingvar Ambjornsen couldn’t really do me wrong .I was right. This Revenge (released two years prior) is the opposite of visceral and gory. It’s cerebral and understated. It definitively is too slow to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has enough nuance and restraint to offer a healthy challenge to whoever decides to watch it.
Set up in a remote town in Norway, Revenge tells the story of Rebekka (Siren Jorgensen), a grieving woman looking for payback from her little sister’s rapist. Scarred from the ordeal, the girl hanged herself and Rebekka deems the handsome and successful Morten (Frode Winther) responsible for her death. She checks in to his hotel under a false identity, befriends his wife Nina (Maria Bock) and starts looking for an angle on Morten. But she soon finds out that Morten has an angle on everybody he keeps near. There’s something lurking behind his wholesome hotel owner facade. The dude didn’t change that much since he raped Rebekka’s sister.
One of the themes explored in Revenge is control and how it’s a latent form of violence. Morten’s business is control and he doesn’t keep anyone around that he can’t exert power over. He paid off all of his friend Bimbo (Anders Baasmo Christiansen)’s debts, which transformed him into an obedient employee. When Rebekka takes Nina out for a drink, he guilts her into coming back home by pretending their child is sick. Maya (Helene Bergsholm) is one he can personally control, so he does by ruining her reputation. He definitely isn’t the outwardly violent and sex crazed rapist stereotype portrayed in American movies. He’s frighteningly real.
So, Morten’s business is control and Rebekka’s business is creating chaos and setting the gorgeous mirage he built for himself on fire. That brings us to the other important theme in Revenge: punishment. Rebekka keeps juggling throughout the movie with what should be Morten’s punishment. He needs to be held accountable for his actions, but should he be killed? Castrated? Outed for who he really is? Morten gets physically attacked by thugs halfway into the movie (presumably Maya’s friends) and he uses the occurrence to victimize himself. Getting to a man like him is not as self-explanatory as it seems.
Revenge isn’t a spectacular-looking movie, but it’s one of the best fictions about sexual violence’s I’ve had the privilege to come across. It had a brief theater run in the U.S in August and I’m not sure it’s still there, but it’s definitely worth a watch. Perhaps even more in 2018 than ever. Rapists and sexual deviants of all acumen love to claim grey lines when they’re finally outed, but Revenge shows how a predator actually cultivates grey lines in order to keep their consciences clear and their victims afraid. It’s a pretty nerdy reason to like a movie, but I can’t think of a higher calling to fiction than that.