'Revanche' is a film that ends strong but begins ugly and vulgar, although there's no question that the life director Götz Spielmann portrays is exactly that. Because of its candid approach, some viewers may find the frank portrayal of a brothel disturbing, and even perhaps unnecessary for a film that is ultimately concerned with redemption and forgiveness - but in this case I believe it's justified. One of my usual complaints about film in general is the use of clichéd shortcuts that hand the viewer stereotypes instead of characters, and even though Spielman doesn't escape it completely, this film's reflection of prostitution transforms the character of Tamara from cardboard into a real human being, and is what enables the build-up for film's quietly compelling finish.
Alex, an ex-convict, works as a gopher/driver for the owner of the brothel, and, in secret, carries on an affair with Tamara, a prostitute who needs 30,000 dollars to essentially buy her freedom. He hatches a plan to rob a bank, thereby acquiring the money they'll need to escape their dead-end lives (I've yet to see this turn out to be a good idea). Unsurprisingly, the bank robbery does not go off as planned, and Alex must confront the dark corners of his nature and decide what sort of revenge is justified when the world doesn't go along with your desires.
I've purposely left out a lot while summing up the film because, even though the information is easily accessible, it moves at different pace and with so few conventional clues that it achieves a heightened unpredictability that I wouldn't want to ruin. Unpredictable may be too strong of a description, but the director does add a dose of uncertainty to a storyline that, in other hands, might have been numbingly safe and routine. As I mentioned, pacing has a lot to do with it, and this may turn off some viewers. There are stretches in the film where little happens - and even when the crucial moment arrives and Alex must decide what the rest of his life is going to look like, it comes with no warning and nearly off screen. An inattentive viewer may miss it completely.
I enjoyed this film a great deal once Alex began to deal with the aftermath of the robbery - and the entire movie was intelligent and un-condescending. Every time the director had an opportunity to do so, he treated the audience as if they were quite able to understand what was happening on screen, and didn't waste my time and patience by drumming every plot point into my head or spelling out every connection. Still, it did have some faults. Though random chance is definitely a factor in our lives, it's often difficult to accept on film, and this movie does indulge in it. Aside from that though, there was little to criticize. Cinematically crisp and striking, 'Revanche' delivers a resolution to impulse and fury that's told with both grace and dignity.
Although this film is not rated, it contains adult themes and situations, nudity, and frank sexual situations.