REVENGE. USA in a nutshell

Revenge evokes unease from the very first minutes.

Mikołaj Lewalski

9 July 2024


In Revenge, a familiar story is enriched with sharp satire and criticism of modern society, echoing the tone of crude exploitation cinema. Everything here is hyper-stylized: from the intense colors and hyper-realistic sound design to the bloody and grotesque violence, and the completely insane editing sequences and visual tricks. Exceptionally well-thought-out frames and pulsating synthesizer notes create a true audiovisual feast for the viewer, who is mesmerized by what they see on the screen. It’s the perfect blend of beauty and ugliness, teetering on the edge of parody with a feminist undertone.

Revenge evokes unease from the very first minutes. A young, attractive couple arrives at a secluded villa. Their romantic getaway is quickly interrupted by the appearance of two shady acquaintances of the man we’ve met. Each of them undresses the main character with their eyes, and probably licks their lips lustfully off-camera. Not without reason: the stunning Matilda Lutz, playing the protagonist named Jennifer, seduces with every gesture and showcases her beauty to the fullest. A pink top, a lollipop in her mouth, and star-shaped earrings—French director Coralie Fargeat constantly emphasizes the young girl’s sex appeal.


Richard, the man associated with the girl, seems to either ignore or even derive satisfaction from his friends’ jealousy. After a party night full of erotic tension, he leaves Jennifer with his companions for a few hours without any worries. Both the girl and the viewers fear the worst at this point, and indeed—a tragedy occurs. One of the men rapes the protagonist while the other ostentatiously pretends not to know what’s happening. Upon Richard’s return, it turns out that the only thing he can offer his lover (surprise, Richard is cheating on his wife!) is money and a forced relocation. He doesn’t think his friend should face any consequences for his actions and covers for him in the name of misguided male solidarity. When the protagonist loses control and flees the villa, Richard decides to take matters into his own hands and kill Jennifer. However, this turns out to be a huge mistake.

The first act of the film already reveals that we are in for a spectacular (despite the intimate setting) and truly wild spectacle. Only after the “resurrection” scene do we understand how crazy the visions we are about to see will be. The bloody revenge on the men becomes an opportunity to present fascinating images full of highly exaggerated violence. You’d never think how much blood a human body can contain! This is definitely not a screening for sensitive viewers, as the cinematographer, with a sadistic streak, serves us very naturalistic frames full of torn flesh and copious amounts of blood. This is meant not only to shock the audience but also to build sympathy for the injured and wronged protagonist.

At a certain point, the roles begin to reverse, and the girl stops being the prey and becomes the predator. The men, initially portrayed as alpha males, lose their composure and transform into panicked boys with expensive hunting gear (their original purpose for being in the desert is revealed to be hunting, a stereotypical male activity for “real men”). Their suffering and bloody wounds are a source of significant satisfaction for the viewer, drawn into this whirlwind of almost comic-book-like violence. The emotional weight of the whole thing is also thanks to great performances—each of the men is repulsive in his own way, and the star of the production repeatedly proves she has more talent than all the other models dabbling in acting combined. The transformation of the protagonist, who evolves from a sex-kitten Lolita into a hardened and determined avenger, brings true catharsis.


The entire film is full of distance and mockery, and numerous montage juxtapositions and staging ideas leave no doubt about it. In the sea of blood and grime, the critique of the still popular dismissive attitude towards rape and the mutual admiration of men blind to women’s suffering does not get lost. However, you won’t find any fiery sermons or moralizing monologues here—the carrier of the argument in the film is violence.

Some might be critical of this vision, but it’s important to remember that we are dealing with highly self-aware cinema that deftly navigates the boundary of self-parody. How else to explain the shot where the camera slowly revolves around a half-naked, blood-and-dirt-covered girl with a burn scar in the shape of an eagle on her belly and a shotgun in her hands? For its boldness and technical perfection, Revenge is sure to achieve cult status and be remembered among film enthusiasts.