• Austrian director Götz Spielmann starts Revanche (translates to revenge) with a gorgeous static camera shot capturing both a body of water and its reflection. The shot is held, Spielmann is patient. A rock is thrown in with ripples echoes and there is his metaphor.

the opening shot

  • Johannes Krisch plays Alex and Irina Potapenko plays Tamara. She works in the sex trade and Alex is a sort of errand boy at the brothel where she works.
  • Spielmann finally moves the camera (a track to the right) at the firing range as he breaks from the Alex and Tara story. It seems random—but everything comes around to have a purpose in Revanche.
  • Spielmann’s style seems to have much in common with the great Michael Haneke: longer takes, largely a static camera, medium-long distance, no musical score. At the 33-minute mark there is a beating at the brothel and whatever happens to fall in front of the camera is what Spielmann captures. He does not accentuate the dramatize scene at all. He observes at a cool distance.

Spielmann’s style seems to have much in common with the great Michael Haneke

  • Alex schemes up a bank robbery and Tamara insists on coming. “nothing can go wrong” is said at least three times…talk about fatalism.
  • Spielmann’s style diffuses the drama during the heist. There is a genuinely fine frame capturing the stolen BMW left in the woods.
  • At that point, the film will frustrate many viewers unaccustomed to the patient rhythms Spielmann has set up as Alex stops, and mostly just chops woods for the next 30-minute of screen running time. But he’s grieving, doing penance, he’s angry—there is great subtext for those that are patient enough to stick with it.
  • The policeman- (played by Andreas Lust) is also struggling with the fallout from the robbery. Both men agonize over pictures of Tamara and their portion of the guilt.
  • Spielmann repeats camera set-ups, like the back porch of the policeman’s home, and the farm of Alex’s grandfather.

At the 108-minute mark Spielbmann places the camera back at the water from the opening of the film. He has placed the camera farther back now and has the two men on the bench together. At the 110-minute mark though Alex is sitting and the policeman is standing, because of the natural elevation, their eyeline is on the same plane. This is a sublime composition.

Alex is shot again through the woods at the 111-minute mark—as a standalone these may not take your breath away—but as a collection and part of the visual form—they impress.

The final glorious frame is looking outward at the farm. It is a brilliant composition in a vacuum—but also a statement on Alex’s arc, he has arrived.

  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2008