I've often wondered what it was about Austrian thriller Revanche that made it stay with me over the last few months. I have these images always haunting me. The colour of the woods and the reflections on the water. The eerie atmosphere as he stalks his target on an early morning jog. The long scenes of wood-chopping where we can nearly hear the pop and sizzle of emotional overload.
Was it the overwhelming sense of hope amongst desperation that hooked me? Or that this feeling was so quickly whipped away and in it's place we find a deep pit of remorse.
The key to these shuddering recollections lies in the nature of the revenge that is taken and in the nature of our main character Alex. The horror's all lie in the potentials, the "What if" scenarios and in the lingering sense of being on the brink of something much, much worse. Was it an exercise in power and control that I couldn't quite understand or the taboo of viewing pregnancy as a burden, a punishment? We're left to speculate about the plan and the revenge without clues.
Revanche is a film of contradiction, in one sense the most pure of romances. The idea that a man would go to any lengths, do anything, in order to rescue his lover and himself from their desperate circumstances. When the rug is pulled from under his feet he loses everything, he is reminded of what he left behind. His surviving family, his father and a whole world of time in which to take revenge and readdress the balance. However, from the very start we are unsure as to what is right. It ends with a compulsion, an uncontrollable urge to just ruin the romance of another person's life, even without them having knowledge of it. The smug assurance that he has ruined, has one-upped and has taken something away from his enemy, as low and sneaky as it is, must be some sort of satisfaction for him. And off he walks into the sunset, embittered, venomous yet contented by the seemingly aimless destruction.
In the wake of the film remain so many questions and ambiguities aswell as a penetrating sense of loneliness coming from a film deliberately and completely stripped of glamour. It is this, when characters in film directly reflect the way life really works, that really demonstrates the power of the screen. To feel like you've lived it, and to take something away to ponder for so long. The overall effect is the most provocative of any film I've seen this year.