What finally transpires in this boiling cauldron of conflicting emotions makes Revanche one of the most compelling assemblages of character studies I have seen so far in this too-often-dismal year of moviegoing.
I cannot remember seeing any of the clearly accomplished Austrian performers in the film before. Nor have I seen any of the
seven previous films this 48-year-old writer-director has created since his debut in 1990 with Erwin und Julia. Still, from the moral and emotional intensity expressed so eloquently in Revanche, Mr. Spielmann seems to be an auteur of the first rank, worthy of serious study now and in the future, and retroactively
in the past.
The New York Observer
The nimble Austrian thriller Revanche features what could be the most casual bank robbery in movie history. It seems to happen almost accidentally, barely interrupting
the bank's staff as they indulge in phone calls and small talk while a very nervous robber, Alex (Johannes Krisch), waves
a gun in their faces.
Written and directed in a clean, stark style by Götz Spielmann, this Oscar-nominated film (it lost the foreign-film award
to the Japanese Departures) deserves comparison with grade-A Hitchcock.
The Seattle Times
Directed with terrific control and economy of means by Spielmann - a film and theater vet who has had only one previous movie
distributed in the U.S. - Revanche gets its hooks into you early and leaves them there, alternately suggesting a darkly romantic film noir in the vein of Nicholas
Rays On Dangerous Ground (which navigates a similar journey from seedy urbanism to lyric countryside), a Strindbergian chamber play opened up for
the great outdoors, and a Jacobean revenge drama stripped of its ceremonial bloodshed. Working with the cinematographer Martin
Gschlacht, Spielmann favors fixed, spacious compositions, in which the action often drifts to the far corners of the frame,
until we find ourselves craning our necks as if to peer around the edges of the screen. Hes also marvelous with actors,
particularly Krisch, a stage performer playing his first major screen role here. An intensely physical presence, Krisch can
make vivid business out of scaling a wall or somersaulting across a bed to answer the door, but he is even more adept at registering
the rage and resignation that pass behind Alexs eyes as he stares out into the horizon, weighing his fate.
Götz Spielmann brings a Haneke-like surgical precision to Revanche, his Oscar-nominated drama about an on-the-lam thief avenging a dead lover. But this modern-day morality tale feels remarkably
tethered to the present, introducing plot twists in a crisp, matter-of-fact manner. Robert Bresson its not, but Frances
revered minimalist must be an influence.
Time Out New York
Spielmann avoids superficial suspense, offering beauty and concentration, to revive what cinema is really about. By Revanches end, life is still complicated, but we appreciate its fullness.
New York Press