August 20, 2018 Revenge (Hevn) (Movie Review)
There are certain events that happen in a person’s life that changes them forever. Sometimes the event is positive and so is the change. Though, there are times that the event is so damaging that there is seemingly no hope for salvation. What happens to the loved ones who are forced to watch helplessly as this change occurs? From Director Kjersti Steinsbø (Aber Bergen series), Revenge (originally titled Hevn) takes a stab at getting into the mind of the surviving loved one and what must happen in order to start the grieving process. Revenge made its US debut in theaters on Friday, August 17, 2018 through Uncork’d Entertainment.
A disheveled Rebekka/Andrea (Siren Jørgensen: Side om side 2015, Neste Sommer series) arrives unannounced at a picturesque hotel nestled in the western fjords of Norway. The hotel is closed for the season so only the locals remain. Bimbo (Anders Baasmo Christiansen: North 2009, Welcome to Norway 2016), the bar keeper, questions her presence, which she brushes off and says she is a travel writer there for an impromptu article. Rebekka also assumes a new name and introduces herself as Andrea. She is especially interested in interviewing the owner, Morten (Frode Winther: Hotel Caesar 2001, Borderliner 2017). She is immediately welcomed with open arms by Morten’s wife, Nina (Maria Bock: Sommerhuset 2008, Baldguy 2011) and their infant daughter.
What the seemingly happy couple are unaware of, is Andrea is not who she claims to be. She is there to settle the score with Morten for something he did to her sister, Emma (Rakel Hamre), that changed her forever. Morten is the golden boy of the area. No one openly says anything negative about him. Are his crimes really so serious that Rebekka/Andrea is compelled to cause some type of harm to him? Will Rebekka/Andrea get her revenge on Morten? What lengths will she be willing to go to find justice for her sister?
Revenge is a primal instinct. Something goes wrong or someone causes some type of pain it is natural to immediately demand repercussions. A person does not even have to be directly inflicted to want someone to pay. What Revenge captures beautifully is the levels of understanding that a person goes through when action is taken. Why should his loved ones matter? He did not think of her when he ruined Emma. As the film progresses, Rebekka/Andrea, though never fully waivers from her mission, the scope of her actions widens.
In the beginning Rebekka/Andrea does not care about anyone or anything but hurting Morten. As she gets to know his family and friends she quickly and unexpectedly grows attachments to some of them. Suddenly, it matters who else she destroys when taking Morten down. That is the tricky thing about enacting revenge. It is sometimes difficult to completely shut off from everyone and everything else around. Sometimes those same connections allow for empathy that completely changes the course of the plan.
Jorgensen’s Rebekka/Andrea is delightfully complex and realistic. Yes, the entire plot centers around her need for revenge, but she allows the viewers to connect fully with her. Even though everything she says and does cannot fully be trusted, she is still a really likable character. The viewer is able to follow with her and understand motives behind her every move, even if they at first are a bit extreme. What the writers did expertly and the casting perfected is a group of engaging people (and one that seems perfectly fine but is slightly off putting) that the viewer is instantly connected to. This is especially important for a film about revenge. If the viewer cannot find logic and empathy with the character seeking it, the film becomes frustrating and uninteresting. Revenge does not have an issue with this. In fact, at its closing, it only makes the viewer yearn to know even more.
Even if the film was not enjoyable, it is worth it just to look at the scenery. It might be commonplace for Norwegians to spend time near mountains and glaciers, but in the majority of the US, it is not. It is difficult to imagine anything awful and cruel happening in such a perfect landscape. Watch for the scenery, stay for the brilliant film. Somehow it feels as though if the backdrop was not so beautiful, the story would not have such an impact. Ugly breeds ugly, but when ugly happens in something stunning, it is jarring and hits closer to home.
Revenge is an intelligent slow burner. There is not a lot of pure action in the film, but it allows the viewer to catch up and react alongside Rebekka/Andrea. It is gripping and thought-provoking. What would the individual viewer do in the same situation? It is for these reasons that CrypticRock gives Revenge 4 out of 5 stars.