It is one of those films that you will appreciate more in time than you do immediately after watching it.
Revanche is a foreign thriller from director Götz Spielmann which focuses heavily on the characters than it does with narrative. Unique circumstances bring two separate characters together that allows one to commit a sin and the other is setup for a sweet revenge. The film simmers rather than boils as shows that all actions create ripples in the water.
Alex (Johannes Krisch) works as a bouncer at a brothel where his girlfriend Tamara (Irina Potapenko) works as a prostitute. They must keep their relationship a secret from their bosses as they want her to move up on the prostitution ladder but she wants out. That is when Alex comes up with what he considers a foolproof scheme.
He plots out a bank heist to assist the couple financially for a proper escape. He repeats the fact that nothing can go wrong. Tamara is naturally skeptical as it sounds way more dangerous than Alex is making it seem. Alex tries to explain that it is an in and out operation. The gun he plans on using to hold up the bank will not even be loaded, so no one gets hurt.
She waits in the getaway car as he goes into the bank to execute his plan. Everything is going exactly as planned, he points the gun at the banker and she stuffs his backpack full of cash. The other people in the bank that come into view calmly obey his request to get on the floor.
Tamara’s hesitation to believe a flawless robbery is possible proves to be valid. As she is waiting for Alex to return from the bank a policeman knocks on the car window. He explains to her that they are parked in a loading zone. It is at this moment that Alex is returning to the car. He was able to get the policeman on the ground while they drive off but as they do the policeman was able to fire off a few shots.
Turns out that one of the shots fired remarkably hits and kills Tamara. Caught off guard by the whole situation is Alex. So he goes to hide out on his grandfather’s farm which is part of a small town outside the city. It just so happens to also be the same town that the policeman is from.
Susanne (Ursula Strauss) is the wife of the policeman who is practically neighbors to Alex’s grandfather. Because the town is so small it does not take long for Alex to find out this information. Susanne comes to over to visit which makes things interesting.
Enough though Alex is very stand-offish to Susanne, she is turned on by him. Perhaps it is due to the sexual problems between her and her husband. She invites Alex over when her husband is gone to take part in intercourse. Alex has a few angles he could use this opportunity for, the suspense builds up as he decides how to proceed.
The literal English translation of revanche is “revenge” yet there is not an abundance of revenge in the film. Well at least not as elaborate as the titles found in the “Vengeance Trilogy” by Park Chan-Wook. But the translation has a double meaning and the other one is, “a second chance”, which the film leans more toward. It aptly shows how opportunities can arise from tragedy.
The film received a nomination for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009 as Austria’s official submission. The cast was wonderfully selected and each seemed to be made for their role, looks and all. The cinematography was precise and well executed using techniques to imply foreshadowing through visuals.
Revanche was much more character driven than it was concerned with plot. Even though there is technically not always a lot happening on the screen, due to the excellent tension the film contains you find yourself immersed in it. That being said, there may be just one too many scenes of Alex chopping up wood pieces on the farm.
I could not help but wonder if the character chose to take a slightly different path towards the end the film could have been slightly more appealing. I suppose the point of the film though was to keep it more open ended. The beauty part of doing this is it makes you thinking long after the credits roll. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is one of those films that you will appreciate more in time than you do immediately after watching it.