Have you ever been wronged? Everyone would likely respond emphatically “yes” if you questioned them. You might have even entertained dreams about how you would take revenge on the one who has wronged you.
. Is it just me, or? But actually, Ccarrying out revenge needs a lot of mental gymnastics. Do Revenge, as its name suggests, indulges in this very notion and cleverly does so through the demographic that is the most treacherous, unreliable, and downright terrifying: teenagers. But keep browsing through your Netflix queue if you’re searching for a classic teen film filled with cliches and stereotypes. With deliciously rewarding consequences, this bold dark comedy pays homage to and critiques the beloved 1990s high school setting movies.
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The two main revenge-seekers in the movie are Drea, played by actress and singer Camila Mendes, and Eleanor, played by Maya Hawke, actress, model, and songwriter, and they are both in high school. Given their respective social circles and priorities, these two students would have never met if it weren’t for their shared objective. The first scene efficiently shows how Drea, the ultimate alpha, queen bee, type A, you name it, has striven or pretends to live the ideal existence. She arranges a party in her honor with the help of her closest friend Tara played by Alisha Boe, with balloons and cupcakes having her face painted on them to celebrate being named to Teen Vogue’s Next Gen List.
She is surrounded by her so-called friends and her ostensibly faithful boyfriend, Max, played by Austin Abrams. He is the most admired student at their obscenely wealthy, picturesque, and aristocratic private school. Rosehill is an orchestra, and Max is its conductor, as Drea so eloquently states in one of her narrations. While Drea is running a tennis camp, he selfishly requests a sexy video of hers. Drea agrees, but Max tells everyone in the school about it. He naturally plays the victim and claims that he was hacked, which doesn’t help Drea’s case. Not in the way, she would like, but in the worst way, she has become the talk of the town.
Step forward to the cold, restrained, hat-backward outsider Eleanor. She follows her own set of rules, which frequently prompts quick judgments and eye rolls from her friends, especially at the prestigious tennis camp she chooses to attend. She’s the “Billie Jean King amid a sea of Maria Sharapova’s,” and she truly hopes she could spend the summer with her emotional support bearded dragon, which she delightfully called Olivia Colman. Eleanor confronts Drea after overhearing camper Erica played by Sophie Turner, our very favorite Sansa Stark disparaging her in the restroom. Drea is perplexed as to why Eleanor, who is unconventional and unfashionable, would waste her time conversing with her. However, when Drea’s car suddenly fails to start, she grudgingly accepts Eleanor’s offer to drive her. Why would Eleanor be so eager to assist Drea, the kind of girl who usually causes trouble for individuals like Eleanor? Considering that she is familiar with what it’s like to be a “social pariah.” She tells Drea that she originally came out to Carissa, played by Ava Capri, her first love when she was thirteen. Carissa, who claimed that Eleanor attempted to hold her down and kiss her, turned this statement into a rumor. Since then, Eleanor has remained to herself, mainly because she was forced to since she was called a predator. Drea and Eleanor meet at the beginning of the new academic year on the prestigious campus, and they devise the plot to take revenge on one another.
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Director and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson is an expert at telling stories. She also has a hand in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To highlight how tightly linked this specific narrative is and how drastically different their lives are, Do Revenge ingeniously switches back and forth between their two dramatically divergent points of view. Robinson understands the value of not only developing a complex tale but also assembling the ideal cast that could carry out her vision. Drea’s virtue belongs entirely to Mendes. She demonstrates how to ruin someone’s reputation to Eleanor in one scene so skillfully that it seems like she is reading out a recipe, showing that people like her are prepared to effectively take down anyone who asks for it as well as constantly expecting their “friends” to turn on them.
Mendes isn’t scared to simultaneously expose the unpleasant truth of being viewed as “perfect.” Drea tells Eleanor in a particularly tearful moment, “Sometimes, it just hurts to exist, you know?” Hawke also gives a realistic, nuanced portrayal of the outsider who has been revealed. Hawke’s range is further demonstrated by her reserved demeanor and easy delivery of clever lines like “I talked to Carissa for like, one minute, and it felt like dipping my toe into in Dante’s eighth circle of hell,” which stand in stark contrast to her jittery, adored, and monologue-prone Stranger Things character Robin. Eleanor and Drea alternate between being the protagonist and antagonist, making them more intriguing, authentic, and approachable.
An eclectic mix of actors brings to life the group of cunning characters dubbed “the Revengers.” Another standout is Talia Ryder’s flirtatious and endearing Gabbi, who develops feelings for Eleanor. The duplicitous Tara, whose loyalty is as dependable as a phone with a 5% battery, is expertly portrayed by Alisha Boe. Turner shatters her Game of Thrones image and gives an outlandish, physically demanding, and absolutely hilarious performance, even if she barely appears in a few scenes. Do Revenge works so effectively because the characters aren’t embellishing their performances or portraying stereotypes, unlike many films with teenagers as the main characters. The realistic interaction between Robinson and Celeste Ballard prevents the plot’s occasionally outlandish moments from deviating too far from the main course.
The movie pokes fun at the potentially excessive wokeness on college campuses and the hypocritical peacocking that results when out-of-touch individuals try too hard to be an “ally.” It is both sad and oddly reassuring that the movie keeps reminding us that everyone is constantly performing at the end of the day.
Do Revenge avoids typical storytelling, which keeps things fascinating despite being unexpected and upsetting at times. Bold decisions are taken, leaving you in awe, and making you reevaluate your allegiances.