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Revanche

Revanche (2009)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 82
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 3

With Revanche, Götz Spielmann has crafted a debut as surprising as it is suspenseful.

96

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 1

With Revanche, Götz Spielmann has crafted a debut as surprising as it is suspenseful.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 4,423

My Rating

Movie Info

A happily married couple becomes unlikely friends with a man whose life has been marked by chaos and violence in this drama from Austria. Alex (Johannes Krisch) is a small-time criminal who, after a stretch in prison, finds himself working for Konecny (Hanno Pöschl), who runs a grimy house of prostitution; unknown to Konecny, Alex is also involved with Tamara (Irina Potapenko), one of his whores. Wanting to raise some quick cash, Alex robs a bank in a nearby small town and hides out on a farm

Feb 16, 2010

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All Critics (82) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (3) | DVD (8)

A surprisingly unruffled tale of love, thievery, murder and revenge.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The plot might have yielded a generic erotic thriller if Revanche were made by rougher hands. Instead it becomes something more sophisticated thanks to the efforts of writer-director Götz Spielmann and a superb cast.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's real biblical tragedy, and redemption, in Spielmann's fine, sad, suspenseful film.

November 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film of carefully strained pulp and rigorously controlled intrigue, the Austrian revenge drama Revanche, which is really about the dividing line between vengeance and forgiveness, belongs to a neo-noir universe where all the classical genre laws apply.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Writer-director Gotz Spielmann (Antares) avoids the clutter and manipulation of most thrillers, escalating tension almost solely through the characters' turbulent emotions.

August 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Revanche involves a rare coming together of a male's criminal nature and a female's deep needs, entwined with a first-rate thriller.

August 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"It works because Spielmann has established that we're not watching belabored dramatic trajectories collide, but an encounter between two people in miles-away mindsets."

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Impressive noir film that befits Greek tragedy as it travels deep into sublime territory.

June 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Austria's nominee for the Best Foreign Language Oscar is a precise and effective psychological thriler

June 15, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Here justice moves slowly, and in mysterious ways - and Spielmann's final reckoning of accounts, though unexpected, is subtly satisfying.

July 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Eye for Film | Comment (1)
Eye for Film

Gotz Speilmann's film is well-made, aptly characterised and seems frighteningly true to life.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

More character study than thriller (the title means "revenge"), this slow-burning Austrian film effectively holds our interest with its unpredictable plot, even though it's not easy to care where it's going.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Revanche (French for 'revenge') is that rarest of things -- a thoughtful thriller.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

It unfurls at a slow, measured pace, and director Götz Spielmann uses the plot's Noir-esque trappings as a jumping-off point for an absorbing morality tale about the way life never turns out as planned. It's bleak, but in a good way.

May 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Scotsman

A modern fable which draws broad parallels and depicts profound moral quandaries with an elegance and frankness rare in cinema.

May 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

It has a distinctive sort of Euro-hardcore sheen, mainly due to the superbly lucid, diamond-hard cinematography from Martin Gschlacht.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

It's a slow-burning Austrian thriller with no stars, no special effects and, by the looks of it, almost no budget. But sometimes a little goes a long way.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Aided by a terrific performance from Krisch and an exceptional ensemble cast, Revanche is a beautifully crafted psychological thriller that should firmly place Götz Spielmann on the world cinema map.

April 30, 2010
Little White Lies

The film exerts a steady grip without charging head-first into thriller territory: there's a cool, cosmic irony to the way fate wheels around.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

As good a thriller as you'll see this year.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Tauntingly slow but hauntingly shot (and edited with crisp abruptness), it was a deserving nominee for Best Foreign Film at last year's Oscars.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

This riveting study of desire, isolation, guilt and redemption bears the influence of both Robert Bresson and Michael Haneke, and proves surprisingly optimistic in its assessment of human weakness.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

From pacing and composition to its frank attitude to sex and wonderfully open performances, the film is a largely pretension-free zone. A fine lesson in the art of storytelling.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

It's a truly refreshing movie that justly received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The film's first half uses a restrained style to build interest, while the latter, as clever in its construction as it is human, elevates the characters of this potential potboiler.

March 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Bright Lights Film Journal
Bright Lights Film Journal

feels like the product of a master craftsman

February 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Revanche

A gorgeous, sentimental, and somewhat existentialist drama about revenge, forgiveness, love, and devotion. Shot in mostly long, static shots without any musical score, Revanche is a film that will absorb and envelope you into its world, staying with you long after the credits have rolled.
April 20, 2014
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about these Central European films that make them so entrancing..maybe it's the film-makers' approach of handling subjects that are so close to real life; so tangible that you feel a part of it all!

Austrian writer-director Gotz Spielmann's 2008 film "Revanche" (Meaning: Revenge) is one of the finest examples of such film-making where the director makes it all look so simple..yet when the film is over you realize what talent it must have taken to build this exquisitely crafted product that displays such awe-inspiring profundity.

The opening shot of the film is a work of art by itself. We are shown the view of water in a pond. The water is dead still with the reflection of the trees surrounding the pond, clearly visible. The natural atmospheric sounds and the chirping of the birds is all that is audible. The camera indulges in a steady capture of this shot for some time until the viewer gets completely immersed in that state of tranquil....

....and then suddenly out of nowhere, something is thrown in the water that completely disturbs the peace. Ripples are created in the water and the reflection disappears; there is turbulence..and the water is no more still!

This opening scene more or less symbolizes the central theme of this picture.

We are introduced to two couples; a Ukrainian prostitute, Tamara (Irina Potapenko) working in a brothel in Vienna and her boyfriend Alex (Johannes Krisch) who works for the brothel owner. Alex has a plan to make some quick bucks that will enable him and Tamara to make a getaway from the brothel and start a new life.

The second couple is a husband-wife duo staying by the country-side not too far from Vienna. The hubby, Robert (Andreas Lust) is a cop and his wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss) works in a local store. Together they make ends meet; have a comfortable life that way, but both of them long for a child and they haven't had the good fortune of having one thus far.

Then we are also introduced to Alex's aged grandfather, old man Hausner (Johannes Thanheiser) who resides alone on a farm very close to the residence of Robert and Susanne. Once in a while he likes to play his accordion.

Life is as usual for all of the above characters until one day when Alex decides to put his plan into action; post which everything heads towards an irreversible change...

Further plot synopsis would only dampen the mesmerizing effect of the narrative and therefore I will leave it at that.
At the outset and the few sprinkles of synopsis above would make the reader feel that this is yet another pedestrian film with some 'seemingly perfect' plan going wrong, paving the way for some usual material for a Hollywood thriller. But rest assured, so is not the case, and you are in for a pleasant surprise, as Spielmann's story unfolds in a most unpredictable fashion!

Spielmann gives the film a naturalistic feel by completely steering clear of background score and relying only on natural sounds. The sound designers do an excellent job in that department and Spielmann ensures that we don't feel the lack of music at all. In fact it comes across as a welcome feature of the screenplay and it wouldn't be wrong to think that any background score would've in fact compromised the quality of it! This has been done before in Michael Haneke's 2005 film "Cache'" but is much more effectively pulled off in "Revanche". The rustling of the leaves, the singing of the birds, the faint howling of a light breeze...all wonderfully incorporated!
Hell..the sound of wood-chopping never sounded as lovely before!

Full points also go to the cinematographer Martin Gschlacht. What beautiful captures of the countryside...the pond, the farm, the woods....those lovely scenes, sometimes captured at a distance almost made me want to go into the screen and enjoy that moment. And then there is the editing by Karina Ressler. Some may argue that some scenes are too indulgent and unnecessary while on other occasions, the editing seems extremely crisp. But then there is a good reason why such an approach has been chosen. So yes, there are some long, recurring scenes of Alex chopping wood on his grandpa's farm...but I believe that is one of the qualities of this picture..a finer nuance that needs to be appreciated based on the context of the scene. Although some gratuitous nudity could have easily been done away with, it is hardly any reason to nitpick.

The acting is top-notch as well, particularly by Johannes Krisch, a part Tommy Lee Jones-part Brad Pitt lookalike who is fabulous as Alex. All sympathies go out for this character who is shattered by the way things turn out for him, far from conforming to the way he had planned. Andreas Lust as the cop haunted by guilt and Ursula Strauss as his supporting wife are close seconds in the acting department. Irina Potapenko and Johannes Thanheiser support well.

The film ultimately belongs to its writer-director Gotz Spielmann, the proud creator of this venture. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language, and it is certainly no surprise.

Watch "Revanche", folks. It is drama at its very best. Beautiful stuff!
February 23, 2011
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

In many ways, Revanche is almost two separate films. Exactly halfway through the film, it takes a turn that, while somewhat dependent on the opening, can exist on its own. The same goes for the first half. The credits could role at the one hour mark and the film would still feel complete. Still, they both influence each other. The first deals with the longing for a better life, while the second act is the converse; it preserves the memory of better times and the struggle to regain what has been lost. One desperate act transforms everything; one bullet - literally - causes the change. It's really sort of depressing and pessimistic if you think about it. Alex is perfectly miserable throughout the entire film, no matter what else is happening. Granted, he has had a hard life, but it makes you wonder if happiness truly is nothing more than a state of mind. Anyway, it's not one of the best films I've ever seen, but it still deserves some credit and recognition.
September 12, 2010
neverteaseaweasel
Jake ....

Super Reviewer

a brooding thriller that is set in a bit more of a real world than most films of this genre. spielmann has crafted this film perfectly, making the wise choice to leave out a musical score to heighten the sense of realism and using excellent camera work to set the mood of each scene instead. the absence of a score also makes the grandfathers accordion playing a bit more relevant to the actual sense of emotion being portrayed on screen. the varied landscapes and 3 act formula are used with precision, and the characters are written so well that they each have a chance to reveal their multiple dimensions. an emotional film, but at the same time an appropriately simple one with a surprise ending that squares with reality in a refreshing way. a powerful film.
February 27, 2010
sanjurosamurai
danny d

Super Reviewer

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