15 September 2010

Notes on "Revanche"

After watching the 2008 Austrian film “Revanche” by writer/director Gotz Spielmann, I felt compelled to jot down by initial reactions to this excellent move.

(SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this until you have seen the movie)

“Revanche” has one of the best endings to a movie I have seen. It is neither terribly tragic nor mirthfully uplifting. It is almost perfectly poignant. As it approaches the ending, watching it for the first time, I was expecting a devastatingly tragic conclusion with death, vengeance, loss, and sadness. I have come to expect such endings in character driven “Art House” movies. Instead, “Revanche” somehow allows its main characters to live on in a meaningful way. The achievement of this meaningful life, however, certainly comes at significant cost (Alex is responsible for the killing of his girlfriend, and Susanne commits adultery). The cost that Alex and Susanne pay to escape the morose drudgery of their previous lives can be construed as worth the cost, equal to the cost, or not worth the cost. The brilliance of “Revanche” is that no matter how you feel about the character’s sacrifice, this movie is beautifully and delicately poignant.

The question “Revanche” raises (a question with which many people undoubtedly struggle) is this: Is it better to settle for a life of mundane, yet tolerable, unhappiness than to make a life for yourself that is fulfilling and rewarding? And, most importantly: are you willing to make a great sacrifice to achieve this meaningful and fulfilling life? This is both a profoundly difficult and emotional question, as well as an incredibly tasteful and well-elaborated cinematic theme.

The characterizations of Alex and Susanne are so deeply and thoroughly subtle that a lengthy essay could be written after only a single viewing. For now I will simply say that both parts were superbly cast (neither actor is a beautiful Hollywood type, nor do they look like homely character players) which lends about as much realism as can be squeezed into any cinematic drama.

1 comment:

aisha said...

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