REVANCHE (15) ***** DIRECTED BY: GÖTZ SPIELMANN STARRING: JOHANNES KRISCH, IRINA POTAPENKO, ANDREAS LUST, URSULA STRAUSS
THIS austere Austrian Oscar-nominee (it picked up a nod for best foreign language film at the 2009 Academy Awards) takes a more complex approach to vengeance than its direct title – translated simply as "Revenge" – might imply. It revolves around a low-level enforcer called Alex (Johannes Krisch) whose dream of escaping with his prostitute girlfriend Tamara (Irina Potapenko) from their miserable life in Vienna's red-light district is wrecked when small-town cop Robert (Andreas Lust) intervenes in their can't-fail plan to rob a village bank. When circumstances put Alex in close proximity to the workaholic cop's home life, he vows to get revenge, but instead finds himself caught up in the concerns of Robert's frustrated wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss). It unfurls at a slow, measured pace, and director Gtz Spielmann uses the plot's Noir-esque trappings as a jumping-off point for an absorbing morality tale about the way life never turns out as planned. It's bleak, but in a good way.