Where is the line between respect and derivative?
Can a movie stand on its own if the main reason it’s so funny is because it reminds you of other movies you’ve loved?
This is the question that hangs on revengeNetflix youth film starring Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke.
Directed by Jennifer Caitin RobinsonThor: Love and Thunder) and co-written by her with Celeste Ballard, revenge based on many, many teen movies that came before him, especially in the 1990s.
This is a movie made by someone who clearly loves the movies she grew up with, and that sense of glee from playing in the same sandbox runs throughout the movie. It’s like Robinson is whispering, “Can you believe I can do this?” This enthusiasm is contagious and easily carried away.
From casting Sarah Michelle Gellar as director to costume references from Romy and Michelle High Schoolreunion, revenge it’s an avalanche of styling. He has a beating tone Jaw Breaker or an underrated Mandy Moore/Jena Malone comedy Saved!mixed with visual palette ignorant and the plot mechanism of Alfred Hitchcock Strangers on the train.
The plot centers on Drea (Mendez), an incredibly beautiful and incredibly popular student from Miami. She may come from a poor family, but she succeeded – she is the best student, dating the most privileged boy in school, and even starred in Teenage fashion list.
But everything falls apart when a sex tape of her and Max (Austin Abrams) is leaked all over the school. She knows Max did it, but as is often the case when you’re a crossroads of the economically underprivileged, women and cultural minorities, Drea pays the price.
At the tennis camp where she works during the summer, she meets Eleanor (Hawke), a future transfer student, who tells her grief about being kicked out of the closet by a school friend named Karissa (Ava Capri).
Drea and Eleanor have a moment of insight when they realize they can carry out each other’s revenge plans – keep their hands clean and taste that sweet, sweet revenge.
It’s a simple and elegant plan – and we can thank that temptress Patricia Highsmith for it, this is her book, adapted by Hitchcock. The ideal place for this is also the school environment – a place of heightened, unbridled emotions and a penchant for performative cartoonish villainy.
revengethe story is poignant and funny. It mostly works for fun, even if it’s bumpy – it starts off wobbly and almost completely loses itself towards the end before landing.
There are some inconsistent character choices that are hesitant, but that’s not a deal breaker – and they stem from a plot twist that’s as awkward as it is delightful.
Robinson waves so many pompoms that the derivative really looks like love. How do you argue with a movie that has a game of croquet, a la Heathersor who has a building called Horowitz Hall?
If you love that era of teen movies – and the Easter eggs that point to them – as much as Robinson, revenge can be intoxicatingly fun.
And there is nothing that encapsulates it as much as its soundtrack. Between the use of contemporary artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers, a setlist of hits from the 90s is woven in.
Music is the shortcut to a certain time and atmosphere, but damn it, it’s not efficient. Do you want to immediately draw on the cheeky, upbeat late 1990s? Explode some Blind Third Eye or Cranberry.
Why not be the first movie in years to feature Harvey Danger’s Sitta on the Flagpole or call back Cruel Intentions with Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You”? And there is a specific Cruel Intentions a visual reference as you drive off in a vintage convertible while the camera pans out.
revenge a nostalgic punch no doubt, but pop culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Everything that is released is in dialogue with what was before, and if revenge can effectively use the past as a weapon to increase his authority and then all his power. You won’t be bored.
revenge won’t be as iconic as the movies he loves. We probably won’t talk about it in a decade, two or three, like now. 10 things I don’t like about you, ignorant or Mean Girls but at the moment there is a lot of fun.
Do Revenge is streaming on Netflix now
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