The literal English translation of the title is 'revenge', but it also has another meaning of 'second chance'. If you play a game against someone and lose, you can ask for 'revanche', another game/ chance to beat your opponent. See more »
Evening things up requires giving up a piece of you
As seen at the AFI Film Festival, Revanche is a tight thriller that is at a the same time a mood piece and a human moral drama. Austrian's official submission for the foreign language category in the 2009 Academy Awards is likely to this reviewer to get the nomination. Following the lives of two couples, a prostitute and a thug, a cop and his wife; tragic circumstances converge their lives when a bank robbery goes awry. Featuring a stand out performance by Tommy Lee Jones look-alike Johannes Krisch as the thug Alex, the man creates tension when out of frame, in the nick of shadows and in front of the camera. His character of Alex is a tortured soul that the audience is never sure off; his intentions or actions are hidden behind a mask of serenity. Not satisfied with being a replica of Jones, he also gives a very Tommy Lee Jones no-frills turn that keeps the movie afloat. Director Gotz Spielman creates tension using sound and extremely detailed camera set-ups. Not show-offy in anyway but including two long one take shots, he also uses his DP to infuse the screen with pale and desaturated color tones for nights scenes and natural lighting for daylight scenes, all used to provide a flat élan on the screen. It effectively supports the vibe of these revenge melodrama. What could be hammy in another director's hands becomes poetry in his. The sound of the ax smashing a block of wood never seemed more intimate. When a director uses it in such a way that the viewer feels inside the innards of a man's soul, you know the director knows his stuff. Intricate and detailed, it is consummate from top to bottom. If there is any qualms with the movie, it is in the character of Robert the cop played by Andreas Lust. His character arc is supposed to mirror Alex but he never earns the audience's sympathy the way Alex does; yet his story is geared toward such a response. The character is slightly underwritten and the actor never engages the character the way Johannes does. Playing against our expectations to create an ending reminiscent of Greek tragedy, it is a worthy movie experience and the best movie I've seen in 2008 along with Mike Leigh's Happy go lucky.
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