Saturday, 5 February 2011

Revanche (2008) - Götz Spielmann

Good little film this, not quite as good as it thinks it is, but well worth watching at least once. I wasn't as keen second time round, I found the pacing to be just a little too slow, and my attention wandering since I already knew the outcome. Still as I said well worth watching once. The acting is of the solid variety, all five of the leading actors bring something emotional to the film, no grandstanding or scene stealing, just good honest ensemble acting, the kind you find in modern European films all the time, but very rarely in their American counterparts. The script (also by Spielmann) and direction are equally tight. Spielmann directs the first half of the film with a detached almost cold style, which warms up as the film progresses. There's no shaky cam shots here, it's either static observational just outside the doorway shots, or nicely composed dolly efforts. A director who knows what he's doing and why, and therefore places his camera with confidence.

Revanche is split neatly into two halves by a single event, it's this event that brings all the characters together. Sometimes when this sort of device is used in films it can feel really forced and unnatural, not here though. Alex is an ex con working for a shitbag gangster at a brothel in Vienna, his girlfriend is Tamara, a Ukrainian prostitute working at said brothel. Robert is a policeman in a small town in the Austrian countryside, he's married to Susanne, they want kids but Robert is firing blanks. The final piece of the puzzle is Alex's grandfather Hausner who lives in the same area as Robert and Susanne. Alex decides that it's time for him and Tamara to get away, start afresh somewhere else. Now like most couples intent on change they need a bit of cash, so what better way to do that then robbing the bank in your grandfather's town? It's this moment that changes the direction of the film and brings all of our players together.

As I said earlier the film does slow down in the second half, and makes the whole seem a little lopsided. It's a small niggle though for what is essentially a decent well directed, well acted little film. There are some great moments and themes running through the film, all of the main characters are in a sense prisoners in one way or another, Susanne is even filmed through the windows of her home as if they were bars. The opening image is of a gun being thrown into a lake, the peace of the water being broken by such a violent object, which then causes ripples to echo out across the lake. This image is the central theme of the film, very smart. The revenge of the title, might not quite turn out to be what you expect, I do like tings like that. I look forward to whatever Spielmann comes up with next. What higher recommendation can I give than that? 

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