Calgary International Film Festival day 3:
- Revanche (Revenge) *******
As the film opens, we see a series of images of life in an Austrian town: ripples on a pond. A man mowing his lawn with an electric mower. The man's wife preparing food in their kitchen.
We are in a room somewhere. A city. A man stares out his window at a train going by, before he is summoned by the doorbell.
And how different the cinematography is between the two sequences! The colours in the first, warm and vibrant; in the second, muted. Whitewashed. Dull. Likewise the film stock, from crisp and detailed, it becomes much coarser, and grainy. We might as well have been seeing footage from two different movies. The intended message is clear: we haven't just moved between two places, but two entire worlds.
A character starts the film in one world, and ends it in the other. He is the movie's protagonist at first, but is arguably no longer so by the time the curtain drops. What strange transformations occur when one moves from one world to the next.
But wait! The director has played a trick on us! Why are we so willing to take his word that these two places are so different? After all, there is more than one crime that has been committed here; more than one person, by the end, that is hiding in fear of being discovered. The uneasy truce with which we are left clearly weighs more heavily on the person who has not been in the big gritty city. Perhaps there is the potential in all of us for Alex's actions, and his experiences, no matter what side of the tracks we call home. And perhaps, at the end of the day, that's not such a horrible thing. I think I can live with that.
Might this movie instead have been titled Erlösung?