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  • To search for a review, click the three bold horizontal lines near the upper left corner.  In the search box, enter the movie’s title, or director, or screenwriter, or principal actor, or opening date, or even a key word.  Reviews by Harvey Karten are from select movies from February 2017 to the present.

THE SACRIFICE – movie reveiw

THE SACRIFICE

Kino Classics from Kino Lorber – new 4K restoration
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Andre Tartovsky
Screenwriter:  Andre Tartovsky
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Production Design: Anna Asp
Costumes: Inger Pehrsson
Editing: Andrei Tarkovsky, Michal Leszczylowski
Cast:  Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall, Guorún Gísladóttir, Sven Wollter, Valérie Mairesse, Filippa Franzén, Tommy Kjellqvist
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 5/17/18
Opens: For complete schedule download https://KinoLorber.com/Film/TheSacrifice.  Blu-Ray and DVD available from Kino Lorber.

The Doomsday clock is ticking and while it ticks, the world remains whole, if deeply fragmented.  Now at two minutes to midnight, or is it three? No matter.  You cannot blame everything on President Trump.  John F. Kennedy moved the minute ever-so-close in the early sixties by challenging the Soviet Union on the high seas but the only bang we heard was from Khruschev’s shoes.  Now, though, with climate change competing with nuclear weapons as the ultimate globe-buster, we need something, but what do we need?  Is it more spiritualism?  More home town religion? A different President and a more flexible Congress?  Who knows?  Maybe Andre Tartovsky can clue us in as he has already done with his final film “The Sacrifice,” which he wrote and directed while dying from lung cancer.  Facing imminent death and the loss of everything, Tartovsky, an expat Russian filming in Swedish with the Ingmar Bergman’s favorite lenser Sven Nykvist, Tartovsky unfolds a drama with no music on the soundtrack save for a Bach aria, a quick melody on the flute, a movie devoid of humor, unless you get your funny-bone tickled by watching a grown man having sex with a witch.

Is that what we need?  Sex with a good witch to end the Iran crisis, the North Korea crisis, the Russia crisis?  Apparently the technique worked then, in 1985 which is the time period of the film, as the world survived thanks, perhaps, to the machinations a small group of neurotic Swedes which included not only the sex (we don’t see much of that since the film is rated PG but don’t even think of taking your eight-year-old to see it) but a sacrifice made by the principal character. Alexander (Erland Josephson), in a Faustian bargain with God, agrees to give up everything, his house and all his possessions if the Almighty would save his loved ones.

The plot, though, takes a back seat to D.P. Nykvist’s capture of the bleak landscape of rural Sweden, here a Baltic island, a scene that makes the viewer understand instantly while Northern Europeans flock to sunny Spain whenever they get a chance.  As the DVD from Kino Classics states, the film evokes an “arresting palette of luminous grays washing over the bleak landscape.”  Characters are shot at first from a distance as in the absorbing opening scene featuring Alexander, a philosopher and critic undergoing a mid-life crisis as anyone living with his neurotic friends and family might.  With his six-year-old mute Little Man in tow, he converses with Otto (Allan Edwall), a dour part-time postman and former history teacher.   Even before the thunder erupts and military jets zoom over the remote island, the two despair.

Aside from the Bach aria, the picture is highbrow, throwing names around like Nietzsche, Gandhi and Jesus while capturing close-ups of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Adoration of Three Kings,” which causes the postman fear.   And about the other neurotics: Alexander’s wife Adelaide (Susan Fleetwood) delivers a monologue to which some in the audience will relate, “I have loved one man and married another,” implying that Victor (Allan Edwall), a doctor, is having an affair with her but wants to chuck it all for a post in Australia “to get away from all of you.”

The postman, a bit of a mystic, sees that a Maria (Guarún Gísladóttir), a weird housemaid, is a witch and directs Alexander to bike out to her digs.  And what woman can resist a seduction that promises salvation for the world if she would “lie” with the rich man?  Well, he doesn’t exactly reveal her importance yet, delivering an impassioned monologue about how, in trying to bring order to his mother’s garden, he has destroyed natural beauty.  To restore the natural order, you’ve got to see the real fire that forms a dramatic conclusion to the film.  (In the Kino Lorber DVD we learn something quite interesting about the filming of this fire.)

Message alert: Science is destroying the world!  And this movie was made before young people became addicted to the soul-crushing technology of the iPhone!

Stay with it.  If you’re into Ingmar Bergman, you’ll have no trouble doing so.  This is not middle-brown Woody Allen entertainment but a thoughtful tale with imagery superimposed on and even more important than dialogue.  See it on the big screen as it has been updated to a new 4K restoration to play in several cities.  The film is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Rated PG.  146 minutes.  © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B-
Acting – B
Technical – B+

Overall – B

SUMMER 1993 – movie review

SUMMER 1993 (Estiu 1993)

Oscilloscope Laboratories
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Carla Simón
Screenwriter:  Carla Simón
Cast:  Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer, Fermi Reixach, Isabel Rocatti
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 5/15/18
Opens: May 25, 2018

There was a time not so far back that little was known about AIDS, about how it’s transmitted, whether it could be treated, and what you have to do to avoid the deadly virus.  “Summer 1993,” known by its original Catalán title as “Estiu 1993, is removed from a time of ignorance.  But when a six-year-old child’s parents die, the little girl is kept in the dark.  As acted by Laia Artigas, newly orphaned Frida is removed from her digs in Barcelona to live with her uncle Esteve (David Verdaguer) and his wife Marga (Bruna Cusí). The pair have a three-year-old daughter, Anna, played by the pudgy Paula Robles.  The film has “autobiographical” hinted in every frame and is indeed a memoir of the writer-director Carla Simón in her freshman movie entry.  While Frida is a city girl introduced to a small-town mountain village (filmed by Santiago Racaj in Girona and Olot), you might expect her to enjoy the change as a summer vacation which will likely extend until she’s an adult.  But she is troubled by the loss of parents as any child might be and is involved in a micro-power struggle with her host’s own child.  In the back of her mind, she must wonder every day about the illness that took her parents’ lives but nobody is willing to be frank with her until the conclusion of the story, when Marga discreetly hints about the cause.  She does assure the little girl that her folks are looking at her from heaven and that “they loved you very much,” which makes me wonder: if they are watching Frida from up there, wouldn’t they “love” her very much?

Carla Simón is intent on focusing on every detail from the spot in the mountains that gives the air of a typical village pueblo, complete with a parade toward the conclusion, performers in masks dancing around to the music of a small band, flags flying.  The chickens have the run of the place and are doubtless happier than the chicks that are factory farmed in the U.S. or “cage free” but still without more than a few centimeters of space.  Ms. Simón, as a six-year-old, has been indoctrinated in religion by her grandmother, Maria (Isabel Rocatti), a regular visitor who tests the girl on the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  Indoctrinated, maybe, but can a six-year-old have a sense of ethics?  “She has no morals,” barks her foster mother to Esteve, when Frida beckons little Anna to a wooded area, a plan in her head to see the girl injured.  When Anna falls from a tree (not shown), her arm in a cast, Frida is now certain that she is on hostile ground and is determined to run away with her grandparents.

Frida is quiet almost throughout, a single tantrum hinting that she is sitting on repressed anger.  Who wouldn’t be given the unfairness of being orphaned at such a young age?  In that role, Laia Artigas comes across as a sweet young woman who does regret leaving her little “sister” to be injured and who, as school beckons, has made a peace with aunt and uncle—taking part in horseplay and caring especially for her foster mom who is preparing her for school with lessons in math.  It appears that she will be fine, lucky to be indulged by people who like her presence, especially serving as a playmate of their own daughter.  The film has few surprises, no raging conflicts, and instead serves to allow Simón to give pleasure to an audience that is content with entering the mind of a six-year-old in a sober manner without histrionics and with great attention to detail.

In fact that audience is likely to be reminded of their own childhoods, comparing their joys and sorrows with Frida’s, each of us discovering we’re not alone with our emotions after all.

Unrated.  96 minutes.  © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B Overall – B

 

POPE FRANCIS: A Man of His Word – movie review

POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD

Focus Features
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Wim Wenders, David Rosier
Screenwriter:  Wim Wenders
Cast:  Pope Francis, Recep Tayvip Erdogan, John Kerry, Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Shimon Peres, Vladimir Putin, Donald J. Trump, Melania Trump, Win Wenders
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 5/14/18
Opens: May 18, 2018

As an occasionally lapsed member of PETA, I have a favorite saint, which of course would be St. Francis.  He once had birds surround him, intrigued by the power of his voice.  As he preached, not one of them flew away. He is often portrayed with a bird, typically in his hand. Even more sensational, in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and so he went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though Francis pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at Francis’ feet, at which time he lectured the animal, warning him to stop devouring the aforementioned men and animals.

Given my affection for the man who did his good deeds during the first half of the 13th Century, I’m surprised that no other pope beginning with the first one, St. Peter, took his name, though a few were members of the Franciscan order.  What impressed the current holder of the office most is arguably his medieval namesake’s embrace of poverty.  Though the son of a rich silk merchant whose father gave him (if you’ll allow) hell for hand alms to the poor, he redeemed himself from the sinful life of the haute bourgeoisie by giving himself to a life of poverty.  For his part, Pope Francis eschewed living in luxury, instead resting his head in a small apartment near the Vatican—at least when he is not traveling outside Argentina to places like Bangui in the Central African Republic and the favelas of Rio, where somehow the residents are not especially pleased with their own penurious condition.  The Cariocas on display in this documentary do not consider picking up food and clothes dropped by the neighborhood dumpster to be an act of holiness, and would probably give up their chance to go through the eye of a needle if by consolation they could dine on oysters at Marius Degustare’s place at Avenida Atlantica 290.

Wim Wenders, whose best work in my view is the mystical “Wings of Desire,” spends much of his time listening to Pope Francis one-on-one, where the Pontiff elucidates his philosophy without the buzz of the tens of thousands of people he gathers whenever he visits a foreign country, blesses the crowd at the Vatican, or entrances the multitude in his own Buenos Aires.  He is called a charismatic man, but would surely not be classified with JFK or Churchill as a rousing speaker.  Rather, his charisma, his hold on vast numbers of Catholics and other too, comes from the fact that, well, he does hold the highest office in the Church and receives a pope’s share of publicity.

What are his views?  Principally, though he extols his 13th Century namesake for choosing poverty, and is angry at the world’s inequality, wherein 20% of the global population holds 80% of its wealth.  (Even more dramatic statistics come out of the U.S.)

Also he wants governments to build bridges, not walls, wants people to stop ruining their mental health by getting off the accelerator because “we’re not machines,” and praises Judaism for founding the Shabbat when no work is done.  Gays? He tells people on a special flight that “Who am I to judge?”and wants couples whose arguments sometimes lead to “plates flying” (which draws a big laugh from the audience though if you or I said this there would be stony silence), to make peace before bedtime.  Unlike U.S. politicians who preach to the middle class but act to enrich the upper classes, his constituency is the poor.

With all these praiseworthy beliefs in his DNA, it’s no wonder that, as he puts it, the cardinals sought him out “from the end of the world,” meaning Argentina.

Also impressive is director Wenders’ use of his and Lisa Rinzler’s shoots in Assisi, black-and-white, deliberately faded and silent film, showing an actor playing St. Francis who at the key point in his life heard God tell him to restore a dilapidated church—which I believe he did thinking that God’s will is more important than his father’s rage at the saint’s alleged throwing away his money.

The film got added publicity five days before its May 18th opening when CBS’ Sixty Minutes showed excerpts.  Now if the movie crowd is anything like the 10,000 folks who line up every time he speaks, the box office should exceed that of “Black Panther.” After all, what other movie has a cast that includes Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump, Melania Trump, Simon Peres (hugging Abu Mazen, believe it or not), Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, John Kerry, John Boehner, Joe Biden, and  hundreds of extras in the U.S. Congress who give the pope standing ovations.

Unrated.  96 minutes.  © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B

ON CHESIL BEACH – movie review

ON CHESIL BEACH

Bleecker Street
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Dominic Cooke
Screenwriter: Ian McEwan from his novel
Cast: Saoirse Ronana, Billy Howie, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson, Samuel Wes

Screened at: Park Ave., NYC, 4/12/18
Opens: May 18, 2018

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The soundtrack is filled with the beautiful music of Schubert and others while at the same time finds a place for Little Richard’s assertive (and in this case ironic) “I’m ready, ready ready, I’m ready ready ready to rock and roll.” “On Chesil Beach,” adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel by the screenwriter, finds two young people who are anything but ready to rock and roll. The opening sentence if Ian McEwan’s novel goes: “They were young, educated, and both virgins on this their wedding night and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.” That pretty much sums up the theme.

If you were born after 1970 you might find that sentence incredible. The sexual revolution, which began with the invention of the birth control pill and was furthered by resistance against authority during the Vietnam War, really was a upending of the old conventions. Both women and men who started their adult lives in 1962, the year this film begins, might well be virgins. Some were considered technical virgins, meaning that they “everything but.” However Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) and Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) were not even that. In fact shortly before their wedding Florence is seen reading a sex manual that must have been written in the forties, looked on by her kid sister Ruth (Bebe Cave), who appears more excited about the subject than Florence. For his part, Edward seems untutored by his parents Lionel Mayhew (Adrian Scarborough) and Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff), his father being an elementary school teacher in a profession looked down upon by Florence’s haute-bourgeois mother Violet (Emily Watson) and to a lesser extent the father Geoffrey Ponting (Samuel West).

Dominic Cooke, who directs and who is at the helm of a miniseries of Shakespeare histories, projects the genteel nature of life in a small English town, where Edward may be considered more of a hayseed than is the love of his life despite his scholarly affinity for history. Florence is involved leading a chamber music string group whose music is given ample and most welcome time on screen by the director.

Social classes notwithstanding, the meeting of these two college graduates at a function is the foundation of love at first sight, the two unable to resist each other, their eventual marriage a natural climax to their affection. This is why it is nothing short of tragic (despite some comic undertones) that the two in their honeymoon suite on Chesil Beach, are nervous: the young man’s leg shaking nervously under the table, his partner’s hand maintaining a tight grip on her dress. Their failure at sex on their wedding night could have been treated as a slip, nothing more, but the couple lack experience even in the ways of solving disputes.

There is an argument here for having sex before marriage which, strange as it seems today when couples live together for months and years and may never even tie the knot. In fact co-habitation should be as required by law just as are the requirements of a blood test for a marriage license.

Though this is essentially a two-hander with hardly a scene that does not include either principal actor, side issues are explored. One involves a terrible accident on a train station when Edward’s mother Marjorie is hit by a door and brain damaged. On the tennis court, Florence’s dad shows his infantile side, ready to break his racket when he fails to shut out his future son-in-law in what should have been a friendly match.

The two principals are made for each other; that is, until the wedding night changes them forever. At twenty-four Saoirse Ronan, soon to play the title role in “Mary, Queen of Scots,” was generously awarded for her performance last year as Lady Bird. Less known in the U.S., Edward Howle had a smaller role in last year’s “The Sense of an Ending,” here fitting in quite well as an equal to Ms. Ronan.
While some critics may show displeasure at the way the film ends, I see nothing wrong with the use of sentiment on the screen, even of the Hallmark variety.

Unrated. 110 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B

FIRST REFORMED – movie review

FIRST REFORMED

A24
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Paul Schrader
Screenwriter: Paul Schrader
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger
Screened at: Park Ave., NYC, 5/9/18
Opens: May 18, 2018

“Sometimes a pastor needs a pastor,” notes Jeffers (Cedric the Entertainer) by way of advising Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke). And boy, does he ever. While Jeffers heads a huge church, his sermons carried on a TV screen for a vast crowd, Toller is at the helm of a miniscule Dutch Reformed Church built during the mid-18th century. The church has a history, now celebrating its 250th anniversary–which is why Toller keeps his job though he attracts scarcely eight congregants. Toller has psychological and physical problems that lead him toward a reckoning that allows the film to pass from an austere, Ingmar Bergman-esque story to an out-and-out thriller like “Taxi Driver.” With a nod toward Andrei Tartovsky, whose films carry metaphysical tones and a wink toward Robert Bresson, whose minimalism includes a spare soundtrack and all-around minimalism, director Paul Schrader is unconventional enough to throw in some surprises, including one of the most resonant climaxes you’re likely to see this year.

Schrader, whose strict, Calvinist parents did not allow him to see films until he was eighteen, unwraps the story as though a reflection on his own upbringing, entertains a view that actors should not over-emote, that more naturalistic performances would evoke passion in the audience more than a display of firecracker exhibitionism. Think of his “Dying of the Light,” in which Nicolas Cage plays an ill CIA agent who goes rogue to hunt down a terrorist who had tortured him. At first you won’t see a similarity between that work and this one, but wait until you get to the explosive final fifteen minutes!

Schrader’s minimalism is evoked by the paucity of music in the soundtrack and the boxy 1.37:1 aspect ratio, rarely used today and dazzlingly effective in this one. Ethan Hawke, made up to look like the 46-year-old he actually was in the making of the picture, is a troubled man. He drinks, thinking, perhaps, that this is the only pleasure he should allow himself. He is in physical pain urinating, the toilet water turning blood red, but he puts off going to the doctor as though he wants to torture himself. And no wonder. His family has a military tradition. He encouraged his son to volunteer to fight in Iraq, which he considers a morally bankrupt war (duh). The young man’s death weighs heavily on him now, as does the abandonment by his wife shortly thereafter.

He is not the only character with a view of life as a miserable burden to bear. Michael (Philip Ettinger), a radical environmentalist whose wife Mary (Amanda Seyfried) is troubled that her husband wants her to abort her pregnancy. He delivers a strong monologue to Toller in which he foretells the end of the world, torn asunder not by warfare but by climate change and the global devastation it would bring about. Why bring a child into this world? His wife is not too happy to find a suicide vest, whose existence encourages Toller to search the ‘net for videos of Middle East suicide bombers. Mary is the only person capable of sweeping the cobwebs from Toller, though Esther (Victoria Hill), a parishioner who leads a choir (which sings in beautiful harmony), is resented for her “hovering” around Toller.

Ethan Hawke is most effective in conveying the conflict present in Toller’s own mind, a man who is so racked with guilt, loneliness, alienation and unnecessary austerity that we can believe only one woman can bring him out of his funk. In a different mode, Cedric the Entertainer uses tough love to break through to Toller, urging the pastor to do something in the real world and not to spend all his time in “the garden.” “Ever Jesus went out to the marketplace.”

If you are a fan of stories depicting inner struggles, enjoy wrestling with intellectual conundrums, and relish the work of a very busy Ethan Hawke (who has five movies scheduled in 2018 including a role in a TV series), this is your film. Unsurprisingly you will think of Trump, who gets no mention in the film but whose aversion to thinking of environmental catastrophe (and thinking at all), has a clear bearing here.

Rated R. 113 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B+
Acting – A-
Technical – B+
Overall – A-

CAPITALISM – DVD review

CAPITALISM

Icarus Films
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Ilan Ziv
Scipt by: Ilan Ziv and Bruno Hahon
Cast: Dr. Robert Boyer, Dr. H-Joon Chang, Prof. Noam Chomsky, Dr. Alan Ebenstein, Prof. Stuart Ewen, Mary Gabriel, Prof. James Kenneth Galbraith, Dr. Lewis Gordon, Dr. David Graeber, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, Dr. Michael Hudson, Ho Fung Hung, Kari Polanyi Levett, Dr. Philippe Norel, Prof. Nicholas Philipson, Prof. Thomas Piketty, Prof. Abraham Rotstein, Lord Robert Skidelsky, Prof. Yanis Varouyfakis,
Screened at: Critics’ DVD, NYC, 5/7/18

Opens: May 1, 2018 on DVD from Icarus Films

From the vast library of Icarus Films, a major distributor of DVD’s, comes “Capitalism.” The commentators are talking heads mostly in the field of Economics with some on related subjects like Anthropology. One thing must be made clear: This is not a Michael Moore treatment from the person I consider the foremost documentarian of satirical left-biased treatment in the entertaining “Capitalism: A Love Story” (an ironic title, of course, considering the filmmaker’s ideology). By contrast the episodes in Ilan Ziv’s film, which total 320 minutes, are more like the fare you expect in a college classroom, each unit’s becoming the subject of from a variety of academics in several languages according to each person’s home idiom.

It may be true that you will learn more from this series than from any course you might take at the university level, as then again, each unit is handled by experts—who may be more knowledgeable and even have a greater gift for language than your own professors.

If Economics is a popular major in college, it may be not so much that our young people are fascinated by the subject but rather that they perceive the study will enhance their lifetime earnings. This may or may not be true, but you will probably earn more than if you studied anthropology or theater.

For non-Economics people such as I, the episodes are on the whole as informative as they are dry (where is Michael Moore when we need him?) The DVD comes with a glossy booklet giving full descriptions of the storytellers, writers and director if you want to check that these are authentic and reliable voices. Ilan Ziv, who sits in the director’s chair, is Israeli-born, fought in the October 1973 war in his home country, and founded Icarus Films. After he left that auspicious company, he made oodles of documentary films mostly on human rights, such as “An Eye for an Eye,” which deals with crime in Texas.

“Capitalism” was broadcast on ARTE in October 2014, made up of six episodes, available on three separate DVDs. They are: Capitalism, Adam Smith, another on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Keynes vs. Hayek and The Human Factor. Each episode delves deeply into the subject. For example, the initial one broadly entitled “Capitalism,” takes us before Adam Smith’s famous book “The Wealth of Nations,” indicating that during the Age of Exploration, slaves were treated as capital goods, bought and sold. The essay on Karl Marx takes us to the mid-19th Century, indicating that Marx published The Communist Manifesto too late. The revolutions in Europe were already going strong, meaning that his printed materials did not inspire the violence in the way that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a forerunning of the U.S. War Between the States.

At least one pundit notes that 1991 marks the date that Communism ended in most of the world, but in 2008, Capitalism met its potential death throes. The series would be of great interest to Economics majors but is unlikely to find a happy home with folks who look for more entertainment with their scholarly leanings.

320 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B

REVENGE – movie review

REVENGE

Shudder/ Neon
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Coralie Fargeat
Screenwriter:  Coralie Fargeat
Cast:  Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchede, Jean-Louis Tribes
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 4/27/18
Opens: May 11, 2018

Women in the developed world are as free as men to say whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean it’s wise to say just anything that comes to mind.  For example, if a woman criticizes a man’s size, that could be a conversation-stopper, but it could be more than that.  And if a woman tells a man that he’s not her type, that’s not a diplomatic thing to say.  In “Revenge,” Coralie Fargeat unfolds a tale in which a beautiful French socialite—and I mean beautiful that way Brigette Bardot was in “And God Created Woman”—tells a gentleman to whom she played up the night before but now telling him that “You’re not my type.”  She follows up with “you’re small: I like tall guys.” Such a rebuff can lead to no good end.  Nor should a woman verbally threatened to tell a French millionaire that she is going to reveal all to his wife.

Coralie Fargeat, whose “Reality +” imagines a chip that would make you see yourself with a perfect physique while letting others see you in this new way, now helms her first full-length feature that similarly involves two people with perfect bodies untouched by pills.  Their gorgeous physiques, which obviously would allow them to enjoy more of life than most of the rest of us, plays havoc.  Blood is shed; more blood than any human body contains.  There are chases, there are telescopic rifles, there are cliffs (probably located in Morocco where much of “Revenge” is filmed) which make handy places for an insulted guy to take revenge for being not somebody’s type.

The revenge in this story does not belong to the men, however, but rather to Jen (Matilda Lutz), an American sex kitten seen debarking from a helicopter after having shared considerable passion with Richard (Kevin Janssens), a French multi-millionaire
on a hunting trip together with Jen.  They are met in a gorgeous desert home by his two pals Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Bouchede (Guillaume Bouchede).  When Jen does provocative dancing, first with Richard, then with Stan, Stan is turned on, but the next morning, when Richard takes a few hours off to see about hunting licenses, the rebuffed Stan rapes her while his portly friend Dimitri looks on, crunching a chocolate bar seen in close-up under Robrecht Heyvaert’s lens.

There’s not much of a plot, but you don’t need a subtle story line for a movie that depends on visuals, and you can see some mighty fine visuals looking at Jen, and for those who prefer, some nude scenes involving the muscular Richard as well.  The bloody vistas are inventive. Think of being pushed from a cliff and surviving because you get stuck on a tree limb that penetrates your body.  How about feasting your eyes on a woman who climbs out, pulls the tree limb from her body with the help of a peyote substance that not only dulls pain but makes her into a Wonder Woman?  Best of all, the cauterization scene is the one to see for drop-dead inventiveness

All in all a bloody good time.  French and English with English subtitles.

Unrated.  108 minutes.  © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C+
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B