REVANCHE IS SWEET

May 1, 2009

Following the lead of Andrew Sarris’s rave review last week, critics continue to praise Revanche, the brooding crime drama of guilt and retribution opening in theaters today, from Janus Films. “Revanche gets its hooks into you early and leaves them there,” promises Scott Foundas in the Village Voice, an assessment echoed by Noel Murray in the Onion’s AV Club: “Revanche is downright hypnotic . . . [It] conveys the feeling of looming danger, and the cold comfort of blame.” In Time Out New York, Joshua Rothkopf, in his four-star review, even makes a surprising comparison: “While poised at the crossroads of shame and purgation, Revanche works on the level of a higher-minded Death Wish.” (Earlier in the year, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir called it a “gorgeous, brooding, unpredictable neonoir.”)

Much more than a thriller, though, Revanche is also garnering notices for its human drama. In indieWIRE, Leo Goldsmith claims it’s “nothing short of revelatory, a nondogmatic and warmly humanist morality tale, a weirdly funny character study, and a revenge tale that’s oddly, breathtakingly soft.” And the New York Press’s Armond White is perhaps the most impressed: “A possibly great filmmaker has arrived . . . Through intelligent formalism, Spielmann crafts a penetrating perception of the world and human experience.”

Update (4 MAY 09): “This Oscar-nominated film deserves comparison with grade-A Hitchcock,” writes John Hartl in the Seattle Times. And in the Boston Globe, Wesley Morris offers: “Amid the stillness in Götz Spielmann’s Revanche, there is surprise . . . There’s a moral beauty in the movie’s consideration of violence and vengeance.”