Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Do Revenge

Movie Name: 
Do Revenge
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Starring: Camilla Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, Talia Ryder, Alisha Boe, Ava Capri, Paris Berelc, JD, Maia Reficco, Sophie Turner, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Bennett, Francesca Reale
Genre: Comey
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
Writer/Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson continues her collaboration with Netflix, with her sophomore directorial effort, following her debut entitled "Someone Great". "Do Revenge" focuses its narrative on two high school seniors, Drea and Eleanor, who both attend a costly private school and have high hopes of getting into Ivy League universities. Drea's hopes suffer a huge blow when her boyfriend, the rich and privileged Max leaks a sex video they both did, even though he denies it. Drea suffers most of the downfall of that escapade and most of her friends soon abandon her. Unlike everyone she knows, she goes to the school on a scholarship, since her single mom is a nurse and can't afford her tuition. She convinces the recently moved into the school Eleanor to work with her in an elaborate revenge plan, where they each go after the people who wronged them, but with Eleanor going after Drea's targets and Drea's focusing on Eleanor's tormentors. They soon start seeing some results, with Eleanor's antagonist soon expelled from the school for planting drugs in the communal farm, though Drea's situation is far more complicated due to Max's popularity. However as their relationship evolves, not all is what it seems in these two girls lives. 
"Do Revenge" uses Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" as a baseline premise (and that film in turn was an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel, with a screenplay from Raymond Chandler, Whitfield Cook and Czenzi Ormonde) in order to create this new version of a dark teen comedy, taking place in an upscale high school. The biggest challenge with this film however is that unlike Michael Lehman's "Heathers" or even Amy Heckerling's "Clueless", while this writer/director knows exactly what the cliches surrounding these characters are, she doesn't necessarily try to add much dimension to them or for that matter, populate it with a layer of humor. There's a glossiness to the film which allows for the universe that it depicts to come across very rapidly and evidently, but while Mark Waters' "Mean Girls" allowed for the characters to experience an evolution throughout the narrative, while also marrying that same narrative with a fantastic sense of humor, this feature by contrast attempts to illustrate the modern mentality of our times, and how that at times is a perfect escapade for people to get away with very bad behaviors. The film's plot and twists ultimately don't add much in terms of giving the characters that additional spark and in the end its tone isn't necessarily the most successful, since it's not exactly a particularly satisfying satire, ending up being more of a light romance with pseudo edgy characters who in the end aren't edgy at all. Camilla Mendes and Maya Hawke are successful in bringing their characters to life, as is Sarah Michelle Gellar as the headmistress of the school. The cinematography from Brian Burgoyne is solid, as is the production design from Hillary Gurtler. While not terrible, it's a rather forgettable film.