Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge, an overly stylized and banal riff on Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, mistakes ambiguity for profundity. Here’s a film that features a quartet of characters that function exclusively on a symbolic level, where Jen (Matilda Lutz) and her married boyfriend Richard (Kevin Jannsens) vacation to a chic resort, free from prying eyes. That is until Richard’s two accomplices Stan and Dimitri (Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchède) accompany the duo. Liquor pours and tensions rise as Stan ogles Jen. Fargeat typically shoots Jen’s nubile figure from a low angle, where the woman’s ass dominates a significant percentage of any given frame that she occupies.
Stan rapes her. Dimitri walks in on the act as it’s being initiated, opting instead to walk away from the proceedings. And when Richard discovers what happens, he sides with his friends, literally shoving Jen off a cliff to her presumed death. Predator, coward, and their opulent enabler, operating in harmony as they observe a woman impaled by the Earth. What follows is your requisite, violent showdown between victim and assailants. The thing is that the whole enterprise is so hollow and superficial, stripped of a modicum of detail or specificity. I get the innate desire to implore your audience to fill in the blanks and engage with the film on more guttural level, but there’s something misplaced about the kind of rage this film evokes. Whereas Ms. 45 spoke to this rape/revenge fantasy as part of a broader product of urban decay, the setting in which Revenge occupies is a barren desert. This arid milieu implies an apocalypse, but such a reckoning is purely a suggestion. The ideas that Fargaet peddles are from a shallow bargain bin.