Don’t the loveliest of movies sometimes come from the unlikeliest of places.
Who’d have thought that one of the finest crime films we’d see in a long, long time would come from tiny Austria (annual film production of Austria=15% of Telugu movies in a year).
Hey, how many of you Bollywood, Kollywood and Tollywood fanatics can even locate Austria on the map?
For the life of us, we can’t remember how or where we heard of the German film Revanche.
But boy are we glad that we made the trip to Philadelphia today to see Revanche (playing at Ritz at the Bourse on 4th St).
Of course, knowledgeable (no, not you) film buffs are familiar with Revanche.
After all, this is the movie that has garnered a rich haul of awards including an Oscar Nomination last year for Best Foreign Language Film and earned high praise from a gaggle of critics.
Does a 94% favorable rating on the Tomatometer impress you?
Folks, that’s what Revanche got on the Rotten Tomatoes web site!
Greater than Sum of its Parts
Very rarely do we get the sense after watching a movie that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
With Revanche, we hit that paydirt.
A very plausible tale complemented by solid acting from the small cast and a tight screenplay come together in a fine ensemble in the competent hands of director Gotz Spielmann resulting in an engrossing two hours for viewers.
Set in a small village not far from the Austrian capital Vienna, the story of Revanche in essence is an account of a bank holdup gone awry and following on to unanticipated consequences.
Lovers Alex (Johannes Krisch) and his Ukrainian girlfriend Tamara (Irina Potapenko) work for Viennese brothel owner Konecny, Alex as a helper/driver and Tamara as a prostitute.
After a vicious beating arranged by the thuggish brothel owner to soften her up, Tamara and Alex run from Konecny.
Soon they embark on the ill-fated bank holdup that has fatal consequences for Tamara when a village policeman Robert with a clumsy aim shoots and kills her while ostensibly aiming at the tires of their getaway car.
A distraught, angry and guilt-ridden Alex ends up at his aged grandfather’s farm nearby when, voila, a most unpalatable surprise unfolds for Alex.
Revanche director Gotz Spielmann (also the writer of the screenplay) paints a bucolic visual picture of an Austrian village seething with tensions under the placid surface of cows, sweet apples and the Sunday ritual of a mass at the church.
Simmering tension you get glimpses of as Alex chops logs for firewood, as Robert frets over his accidental killing of Tamara and his infertility, as Robert’s mother raises the inability of Susanne (Ursula Strauss) to conceive et al.
But there’s more than just tension as some characters espy an opportunity in the presence of a newcomer setting the stage for more twists.
Revanche’s characters are all solidly developed on the sturdy scaffolding of a neat screenplay.
Revenge is Mine
As this fine movie shows, revenge (English for Revanche) sometimes takes on a strange dynamic, its bitter course unfathomable and hidden even from some of the principal actors involved in plotting vengeance.
Plenty of Nudity
Be warned if you plan to watch this film with kids that there’s a lot of nudity here including frontal glimpses of women as god made them. There are also scenes showing rough sex.
Like all fine foreign movies, Revanche has likely had only a limited release in the U.S. And that’s a shame because more people ought to get a chance to see this fine German film (with English subtitles).
It’s highly unlikely this movie will ever make it to India and the DVD is still not available. But those are minor roadblocks for the hardcore desi recidivists, right na? 😉