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Friday, July 24, 2009

Revanche is a character study disguised as a crime drama

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Götz Spielmann's crime drama Revanche arrives in theaters just in time to shore up Austria’s cultural reputation. While Sacha Baron Cohen puts the most frivolous face imaginable on faux-Austrian pop culture in Brüno, Revanche renews the country’s credentials for serious artistry with a sober, surprising character study initially disguised as a thriller about star-crossed lovers and organized crime.

Revanche’s first section takes place primarily in and around a Viennese brothel, where Tamara (Irina Potapenko), an illegal Ukrainian immigrant, endures the duties of a prostitute, and Alex (Johannes Krisch), an Austrian ex-con, works “security” but really serves as a glorified gofer. Their secret love affair, however passionate and tender, appears doomed when Tamara’s boss wants to set her up in a discrete flat for classier clients. Revanche’s portrayal of the grubby details of the urban underworld and its matter-of-fact displays of nudity prove reminiscent of Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen.

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(Image courtesy Prisma Film)

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