Under the guise of hot news, Revenge presents itself as a genre film with feminist overtones. And for her first feature film, Coralie Fargeat is not in the lace.
The genre film seems to find an increasingly interesting anchor point in France, where it offers the general public an alternative to the dreary routine of social comedies. Films like Elle (2015) or Grave (2016) paint the portrait of another French cinema, which explores femininity in a darker way, and where the staging fully serves the main actress. If the idea of comparing Julia Ducournau’s first film to that of Coralie Fargeat is tempting, it turns out to be quite futile. And even serve to highlight young female directors in the French cinematographic landscape.
As the controversy surrounding violence against women continues to swell, Revenge seems to be timely. Almost too much. Heir to a rather controversial sub-genre ( Rape and Revenge ), Coralie Fargeat’s first film does not leave the marked story lines specific to the latter.
While three friends are enjoying a hunting weekend between men in the middle of the desert, a young woman joins one of them. Target of all covetousness, she is raped then left for dead by the group. When she wakes up, she decides to take revenge in the most violent way.
If the synopsis does not reinvent the genre, the director strives to give it a new face. The first half hour gives us a glimpse of a rather removed staging, which deliberately plays on the caricatural aspect of its characters. The light is warm, ocher, the colors garish.
The saturation of the image contrasts with the dark aspect usually encountered in these productions. This sunny bloodbath, which has its eye on Tarantino and Miller, gives pride of place to the great outdoors. A good way to highlight the yet frail silhouette of Matilda Lutz, rather convincing as a vengeful Amazon.
The rest of the cast denotes facing the latter. Grimaced in old handsome, the Belgian Kevin Janssens ready to smile, accompanied by his two paunchy friends. Certain absurd lines thus act as valves in the face of the onslaught of violence on the screen. As if to designate these three little pigs, the director insists on their animality via very close-ups showing their mouths eating and drinking.
Fargeat also demonstrates his formal mastery in a breathtaking final scene (the best), with soft accents of a contemporary western. This obvious stylistic research makes Revenge one of the most visually accomplished films of the genre. Special mention to the rhythmic soundtrack, mix of synthwave and pop rather well found. But if the form is surprising, the substance does not hold as many surprises for us.
Stamped feminist by its director, the feature film unfortunately comes up against the limits of its genre. Intentionally sexualized at the start of the film, Matilda Lutz is supposed to be seen as a mere object of desire. An innocent lolita, turning fatally against guilty men, who is about to subject the cathartic violence of a whole sex. A laudable intention, but the substance of which constitutes the very essence of the genre in question.
Rape always representing a denial of humanity, Revenge does not express more than other feature films of the same type, which did not claim to be feminist ( Eye for an eye in 1978 or its remake I Spit On Your Serious in 2010). If the militant aspect needs so much to be underlined, it is because it does not appear so intensely on the screen.
This is a French movie from first-time feature director and screenwriter Coralie Fargeat, and there is no doubt that it is smart, gruesomely violent and stylishly made. it were directed by a man.
Revenge is not unlike Kill Bill, a modern classic that Uma Thurman has placed in a new light by disclosing what the director in its making.
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