Monday, May 3, 2010
Revanche is an extraordinary film all about the symbiotic relationship between opposites and how they not only attract, but actually need each other to survive. Fittingly enough, the film feels at times like two completely different tales rolled into one. Yet this polarity is neither confusing nor intimidating, and in fact adds an enticing flavor to the narrative.
The first half of the film takes place in a Viennese sex club where a recent Ukrainian immigrant named Tamara (Irina Potapenko) uses her willowy allure to build a steady clientele of middle-class Austrian businessmen. She also maintains a romantic relationship with strong and silent Alex (Johannes Kirsh), the club’s bouncer and handyman, who dreams of settling down with Tamara for a better, and more conventional, future. As life at the club becomes more and more dangerous, Alex hatches a hastily conceived scheme to finance their escape, but a series of missteps, and just plain bad timing, reveal the fatal flaws in his plan.
The scene then shifts to a nearby rural community, where Alex reconnects with his elderly grandfather (Johannes Tannheiser, whose character takes stubbornness to amusing new levels) and generally keeps a low profile. But there are two other characters waiting to round out our scenario; a frustrated hausfrau named Susanne (Ursula Strauss) and her policeman husband Robert (Andreas Lust) who, each in their own way, either use Alex or are used by him to attain a deeply personal solace.
Director Gotz Spielmann has a marvelous gift for recreating the light, space and rhythms of reality. Within his airy dramatic pauses and leisurely vistas of rolling farmland, we are allowed the time to absorb and contemplate the deep-rooted fears and emotions that have driven all of these characters to the edge of a dark desperation.
While Robert and Alex have clear cause to develop into mortal enemies, Spielmann craftily elects to show us that the men share a secret tragic history; a history that affects each of them in equal, but ironic, ways. For its type, Revanche is a nearly perfect film: full of earthy beauty, impeccable pacing, stark authenticity and masterful direction. Gotz Spielmann has served notice to the world that he is a talent to be reckoned with.
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