Revenge condemns toxic masculinity


courtesy of

Kevin Janssens and Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz in a scene in the movie Revenge (2017)

Shrey Parikh, Reporter

Erupting on screen with enough blood and ferocity to make Quentin Tarantino blush, French director Coralie Fargeat’s ​Revenge​ acts as a violent release of decades of pent-up frustration and injustice. Fargeat’s film is a brutal examination and subsequent takedown of rape culture and the toxic masculinity attached to it, and the end result could not be more satisfying.

At first, because of the way the camera lingers on Matilda Lutz’s heroine, Jen, it’s easy to mistake this for the work of a director like Michael Bay or Zack Snyder, both known for their objectification of women in their films. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Raped and left for dead in the middle of the desert, Jen’s harrowing story of her fight for survival and vengeance is much more interested in empowering her rather than objectifying her.

The world of ​Revenge​ is just as harsh and unforgiving as Jen is, an over-saturated, Mad Max-esque land full of sand and rocks and not much else. In this world, people aren’t allowed to die in peace. Instead, they bleed gallons of thick, syrupy blood, experience the epitome of pain, and then die. Predators aren’t allowed to just fade out of the spotlight after a while and get away with their actions; they’re forced to experience the full extent of their punishment, and then they can try to walk away.

Early on, Jen is given the choice to forget that anything ever happened to her and walk away from the desert without experiencing any further pain. Sure, it seems like the easy way out, but she deserves payback. Instead, she takes control of her life and chooses to strike back at those who wronged her by hunting them down and exacting her revenge. Tellingly, just as that decision occurs, the camera begins to focus less and less on her body and more and more on her face and what she experiences, signifying her change from an object of the male gaze to a woman in control of her experiences.

Fittingly, Fargeat is unflinching in her portrayal of the horrible men that Jen faces at the start of the film, providing them with no redeeming qualities and focusing purely on their embodiment of the culture surrounding toxic men and rapists.

They believe that Jen is a trophy that they’re entitled to simply because they are men and she is woman, a fundamental falsehood that somehow is always true of those accused of assault. This makes witnessing Jen’s journey of vengeance all the more satisfying.

Strongly reminiscent of the Me Too movement (definitely not by coincidence), ​Revenge continues the relatively recent trend of accused men having to face the consequences for their actions, making it as timely as ever. It draws upon the anger that has been generated by the movement and harnesses it to provide one woman a sense of closure.

In the era of Weinstein and Spacey, it has never been more important to show justice being served, especially in such a vindictive manner. ​Revenge ​highlights the need for more films like it that aren’t afraid to tackle heavy subject matter head-on.

Jen is a survivor in the truest sense of the word, and witnessing her ordeal can be both uneasy and rewarding. By becoming the sole master of her fate, she manages to rise above the title of victim and conquer the demons that might’ve threatened to upend her life for good.

In the end, her story, grotesquely violent as it may be, is a symbol of empowerment and justice. Together, Lutz and Fargeat righteously deliver a story with enough action and purpose to encourage real-life change as well as to entertain a wide-ranging audience.