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Revanche Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 4, 2010

Winner of the C.I.C.A.E, Femina-Film-Prize and Label Europa Cinemas awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009, Austrian director Gotz Spielmann's "Revanche" (2008) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include Gotz Spielmann's award-winning short film "Fremdland" a.k.a "Foreign Land" (1984); a making of; an interview with Gotz Spielmann; and a theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray disc also arrives with a 12-page illustrated booklet containing film critic Armond White's essay "Revival of the Fittest". With optional English subtitles. Region-A "locked".

In the city you end up arrogant or a scoundrel. He ended up a scoundrel.

Vienna, Austria. Alex (Johannes Krisch), an ex-con, has fallen in love with Tamara (Irina Potapenko, Prinzessin), a Ukrainian prostitute. Tamara lives in a rundown hotel, not too far away from the brothel where she works. Alex also works in the brothel as a bouncer, and occasionally gives Tamara a ride home. The two rarely talk about her job; they prefer to make love.

Tamara owes someone 30 000 dollars. Alex needs 80 000 Euro to join a good friend who plans to open up a night club in Ibiza, Spain. Tamara does not know how to get the money she owes, but Alex has a plan. He is going to rob a local bank where the security is a joke. He tells Tamara that nothing could go wrong - he would get in, get the money they need and get out. Then, he and Tamara would leave Vienna.

But Tamara is concerned - robbing a bank could be dangerous and a lot of things could go wrong. Alex tells her not to worry; he has been in the bank many times and knows what he is talking about. He even has a gun. It is not loaded, but surely no one would want to be a hero when he pulls it out. Tamara must trust him - nothing could go wrong. On the day of the robbery, however, everything goes wrong.

Alex retreats to his grandfather's (Johannes Thanheiser) farm, far and away from the hustle and bustle of Vienna. The two do not talk much, but this is exactly what Alex needs now - peace. He must think about what has happened and decide what to do. His grandfather asks him if he would be willing to chop his wood. Alex begins working - and thinking.

Meanwhile, Susanne (Ursula Strauss), the neighbor's wife, appears. She likes Alex's grandfather. Every once in awhile, Susanne would bring the old man a homemade cake and give him a ride to the Church. She hasn't seen Alex before and wants to get to know him, but he is annoyed by her curiosity and asks her to leave. On the way out, Susanne invites Alex to come see her - tonight, while her husband is away from home.

Alex goes to Susanne's house. They drink wine and then have sex on the kitchen table. Susanne likes Alex - but she loves her husband - and wants to know why he is so cold. He looks and acts like a man who has been hurt badly. Why? Before Alex leaves, Susanne asks if he would visit her again.

Susanne's husband (Andreas Lust, The Unfish) comes home. A lot has happened during the last couple of days at the Police Department and he can barely handle the pressure. He has already mentioned to Susanne about it, but now she wants to know everything. He tells her that it is bad, and that she would never understand.

Gotz Spielmann's Revanche is about love, loss and morality. Told with barren dialog and absolutely no music, the film offers an intriguing look at the manner in which human beings react in extreme situations, how they cope with pain. Here, right and wrong are practically unimportant - what Spielmann is concerned with is his protagonists' thought process.

What makes Revanche a truly unique film, however, are the contrasts - the gloomy streets of Vienna vs. the peaceful fields of the Austrian countryside, the tough and confident goon vs. the disillusioned and broken fugitive, the loving housewife vs. the shameful but hurt woman. Everything in Revanche looks so incredibly casual and real that it really gets to us - and we cannot stop thinking about the main protagonists and their dilemmas.

Spielmann and Revanche reminded me a lot about another Austrian director, Ulrich Seidl, whose films are just as powerful and realistic. Seidl's Hundstage a.k.a Dog Days, for example, explores themes that are practically identical to the ones found in Revanche.

Revanche Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.5 of 5

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Gotz Spielmann's Revanche arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.

I have absolutely no reservations with this approved by Gotz Spielmann high-definition transfer whatsoever. Fine object detail is excellent, clarity very good and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. Some of the outdoor scenes during the second half of the film - from the countryside - are simply breathtaking (there is one, in particular, where Alex is seen picking up apples, that is absolutely gorgeous). The color-scheme is just as impressive - the reds, blues, greens, yellows, browns, grays and blacks look lush but notably cold. Edge-enhancement is not an issue of concern; neither is macroblocking. I also did not detect signs of heavy noise filtering, aliasing, or ringing. There are no stability issues to report in this review either. Finally, I did not detect any flecks, stains, damage, or marks. All in all, similar to Criterion's Blu-ray release of Hunger, Revanche looks spectacular in 1080p. (Note: This is Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free player in order to access its content).