Starting Friday, May 11, The Grand Illusion will host Coralie Fargeat’s stunning bloodbath of a motion picture, Revenge. The film stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as Jen, the young, plucky mistress to Richard (Kevin Janssens) who, long story short, turns out to be a real asshole.
Revenge’s opening scenes borrow the playful opulence of a music video. The couple exits a jet for a weekend getaway in a tucked away house in the middle of the desert. What could go wrong, right? The couple bone, and then in the morning, Jen’s surprised to see two sleazy French guys standing around outside the large plate glass windows with giant rifles. (The men are played by Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchede, and that’s it; you’ve met the whole cast.)
I can’t get over the brazen, sensual way Fargeat sets up this story. We begin with the foursome’s dangerous, portentous night of partying around the pool, drinking, playing with guns, and of course, the conspicuous introduction of a cellophane bag full of peyote. Jen looks like a child who just found out she’s a grownup and can’t get over the hypnotizing powers of her body. Fargeat’s camera (a woman filmmaker, it’s important to remember) lingers on Jen’s body, travels up and down her skin like a tongue and generally implicates us in every ounce of horror to come.
Fargeat’s doing something more than clever. She’s turning film theory’s infamous “male gaze” on its idiotic face. I don’t know how she’s getting away with so much exploitation while staying fiercely within the bounds of feminism, but it’s working.
I haven’t even started to tell you about Revenge’s triumphant second half. It’s better not to know what you’re getting into. Does so much blood make you nauseated? Too bad.
Revenge opens theatrically and on demand this Friday, May 11.