“Rape and revenge”, as its name suggests, refers to a film genre in which a rape victim decides to take justice into her own hands.
Sometimes flirting with horror, happily playing with gore and graphic violence, it offers different interpretations beyond its apparent simplicity. That said, from the famous saga I Spit on your grave, to the controversial Irreversibleby Gaspard Noé, it’s almost always a man behind the camera… That was without counting on Coralie Fargeat and her first feature film: Revenge.
Released three months ago, it is also the first film of its kind to light up cinema rooms since the fall of Harvey Weinstein. Although logically shot before, we can’t help looking at it from a different angle. So, is this just the story of a hot girl carrying a shotgun?
Codes brilliantly reinterpreted
Pretty girl in XXS swimsuit, easy trigger, drugs, bloodshed… The typical elements of rape and revenge are present, but not necessarily where we expect them. As such, it is interesting to note that the only frontal nude is one of the aggressors’, the heroine never appearing in Eve’s uniform.
If little of rape is shown, we do not miss a drop of the vendetta… Spending more than 90 minutes watching four characters killing each other in the middle of the desert could have been boring. However, the film manages to exert a kind of hypnosis, empathy for the main character, which keeps us in suspense until the end.
The little extra? The camera gives pride of place to the setting, alternating religious references, pop colours and mountains worthy of Mad Max.
A feminist catharsis
From the very first scenes, the young woman is hypersexualized, with big reinforcement of Chupa Chups and pink candy outfits. The sexy, not very smart kind, whose objective is simply “to go to Los Angeles to be noticed”. At least, on the surface…
Paradoxically, it is when she is least dressed that she becomes most dangerous. Her body, initially an object, comes to life under the instinct of survival. It acquires full power and control when, on the contrary, the aggressor becomes animalized by losing all humanity. The “weaker sex” takes back its rights, the bombshell can literally become fatal — to the joy of the spectator, who takes pleasure in seeing her turned into a sniper.
With Revenge, the French director signs a good American-style entertainment, reminding us that it is better not to bother the girls. An idea that feels good right now… •
Revenge, available on VOD, Blu-Ray and DVD from June 2018.