A film by Götz Spielmann, In German with English subtitles, 121 min, Austria
By Andrew Rosinski
Nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Götz Spielmann’s Revanche is a dark allegory of the human mental fight — distinctly European; distinctly vanguard — an incisive influx of erotica, existentialism, optimism, pessimism, and, best of all, it’s told in a neo-realist fashion, so the film is tragically human and admirably perceptive of human nature and all its polarities. It certainly is an emotional piece; the surface of the film is painted morose, but under all that gloom is an indescribable and beautiful universal truth that’s relative to our human experience.
The story follows an ex-con named Alex (Johannes Krisch) who finds employment as an assistant at a Vienna brothel where he falls for gorgeous, Ukrainian hooker named Tamara (Irina Potapenko). An intimate relationship ignites and the two establish something reliant and durable, which sorta dampens Alex’s convict tendencies. Thereon, another man enters Tamara’s life, a higher-class man that offers Tamara a prostitute promotion. The threat of this man entering Tamara’s life turns Alex back into a bad boy; then he devises a bad boy plan and, well, things get messy.
Director Götz Spielmann on Nature in Revanche:
This is my first film in a long time where nature plays a key role. The woods, the trails, the secluded lake, but also the like, the weather — all these things are important elements in the film. Revanche starts out with momentum, with a strong plot, and gradually flows into a kind of silence: a powerful silence, I hope. In my mind, nature represents the silence behind the conflicts. Not as an idyllic refuge one can run to for relief, but as a force, an energy with its own almighty intelligence.
As Spielmann states, nature does play a key role in the film and is photographed beautifully. Visually, Revanche is a still film and at times Martin Gschlacht’s cinematography recall an Agnes Varda composition. Like Varda, Gschlacht produces thoughtful compositions wherein each visual frame could stand alone as a still photograph. Varda’s Vagabond (1988) comes to mind.
I don’t want to give away any of Revanche’s exciting plot points and character dynamics. All I can say is highly recommended. Revanche has a limited release, so keep checking the Janus Films site for showtime updates.