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Revanche: Criterion Collection DVD Review

Revanche: Criterion Collection

February 19, 2010

Director: Gotz Spielmann,
Starring: Johannes Krisch, Ursula Strauss, Irina Potapenko, Andreas Lust, Hannes Thanheiser, Hanno Poschl,

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DVD Review

The opening credits for Revanche (2008) play out over an eerie shot of a tree-line reflected in a lake. This serene image is disrupted when something plunges into the water sending out ripples. This image acts as a metaphor for the film as it explores how one act can have an incredible effect that ripples out to change several people.

When Alex (Krisch) finds out that his girlfriend Tamara (Potapenko) is in debt for $30,000, he decides to go in with a friend a buy a bar in Spain. The problem is that he needs $80,000 to do so. He’s an ex-convict working as a bouncer at a bar/brothel in Vienna. She’s a Ukrainian immigrant working there as a stripper/prostitute. Realizing that neither one of them can raise that kind of money, Alex decides to rob a bank. Director Gotz Spielmann does a nice job of developing these two characters by showing us their daily activities. We begin to care about what happens to them. It becomes obvious that they are in love and looking for a better life.

Robert (Lust) works in the city as a police officer but lives in the country with his wife Susanne (Strauss). Spielmann cuts back and forth between the two couples to show their contrasting lifestyles. Both have their problems like any couple and are in need of a change. This comes in the form of a bank robbery, a pivotal event that will profoundly affect the lives of both couples in unexpected ways, just like the ripple effect on the lake that plays over the opening credits.

Actor Johannes Krisch physically resembles a more thoughtful Begbie, Robert Carlyle’s stone cold psycho in Trainspotting (1996). Alex is older and wiser, however, and his fatal flaw is that he thinks that the bank robbery is the answer to his problems without considering the ramifications of his actions. Kirsch does a fantastic job of bringing this complex character to life in a very authentic way. It is fascinating to watch him play out his character’s gradual arc over the course of the film.

Revanche is German for “revenge” or “second chance” and these themes dominate the second half of the film as it plays out the aftermath of the bank robbery in a slow burn as the paths of the two couples intersect. Spielmann expertly shows the effects of both Alex and Robert’s actions on themselves and their significant others in a very believable way that is riveting to watch. Revanche is a powerful, engrossing drama that plays out in a straightforward fashion with an emphasis on these fascinating characters and the tough decisions they must make.

Special Features:

The first disc includes the U.S. theatrical trailer.

The second disc starts of with an interview with director Gotz Spielmann that was done in 2009 exclusively for this DVD. He’s interested in making films that are instinctive and transcend intellectualization. He talks about the theme of loss and how it affects the characters in the film. Spielmann comes across as a very thoughtful and eloquent filmmaker in this excellent interview.

“The Making of Revanche” is a 30-minute documentary that was shot on location while filming took place. There is fascinating footage of Spielmann rehearsing a scene with his actors. Interspersed throughout are clips from the film. This doc provides excellent insight into Spielmann’s working methods.

Finally, there is “Foreign Land,” a 45-minute short film that Spielmann made in 1984 while in film school. Like Revanche, this film takes place mostly in the country. Also included is an introduction by the director.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 89%

Website: http://www.criterion.com/films/85

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