Monday, July 19, 2010
"Revanche" is a 2008 Austrian film that tells the story of ex-con Alex, a towel-boy in a Vienna brothel, attempting to escape to the Mediterranean with his Ukrainian prostitute girlfriend Tamara. Unfortunately, his foolproof plan to finance the move involves robbing a bank and a chance encounter with policeman Robert results in Tamara's death during their escape. Alex abandons the stolen car used in the crime with Tamara's body still inside and walks to his grandfather's small farm nearby. There he makes himself useful cutting and splitting firewood and helping with other chores, surprising his grandfather, who has had a low opinion of his criminal descendent, a product of city living.
The neighbor, Susi, operator of the small local market, visits the grandfather Hausner often and drives him to church and back on Sundays. Her husband is the same Robert that fired the shots that killed Tamara and he suffers guilt over the incident. And the tense couple have their own problem. Susi has had a miscarriage and while they both desperately want children, Robert's low fertility makes that now unlikely. Alex eventually discovers Robert's role in the death of Tamara.
Shot entirely in Vienna and rural Austria, "Revanche" draws a sharp visual contrast between the hectic, degenerate life of the nocturnal big city and the bucolic seasonal existence of the countryside. Like all drama, however, the story is about human relationships, between Alex and his boss, Tamara and grandfather Hausner, between Robert and Susi and ultimately between Alex and Susi as well. Johannes Krisch plays Alex much as Robert Redford would have, with a non-verbal, taciturn style. Ursula Strauss as garrulous Susi is the pivotal character in the film, connecting all the characters in the end. Her actions are what turn a simple story into an engrossing, suspenseful drama. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009, the third film by Austrian director Götz Spielmann to be submitted. My bullriding points scale gives this effort a score of 88 points.