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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • German DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interview with Spielmann
  • The Making of "Revanche," a half-hour documentary shot on the film's set
  • Foreign Land, Spielmann's award-winning student short film, with an introduction by the director
  • U.S. theatrical trailer

Revanche

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By:
Starring: Johannes Krisch, Irina Potapenko
2008 | 122 Minutes | Licensor: The Match Factory

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #502
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: February 16, 2010
Review Date: February 11, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

A gripping thriller and a tragic drama of nearly Greek proportions, Revanche is the stunning, Oscar-nominated international breakthrough of Austrian filmmaker Götz Spielmann. In a ragged section of Vienna, hardened ex-con Alex (the mesmerizing Johannes Krisch) works as an assistant in a brothel, where he falls for Ukrainian hooker Tamara. Their desperate plans for escape unexpectedly intersect with the lives of a rural cop and his seemingly content wife. With meticulous, elegant direction, Spielmann creates a tense, existential, and surprising portrait of vengeance and redemption, and a journey into the darkest forest of human nature, in which violence and beauty exist side by side.

Forum members rate this film 9/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterion releases Götz Spielmann’s Revanche in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz and has been approved by Spielmann.

The image as a whole is very striking here, presenting a consistently sharp and crisp image with strong, beautifully saturated colours, despite the darker, more muted tones used through a good portion of the film. The last half of the film takes place primarily in a country setting and the detail presented in every scene, from dirt walkways, to leaves in the trees, to fields, even in long shots, is remarkable. Black levels are also strong and consistent. There’s quite a few sequences in the film that take place at night in the dark, but the scenes are still quite easy to see.

What I was surprised at, though, was how unnoticeable grain was. The film shot in Super 16mm (according to the booklet) so I was expecting grain to be more prominent. It’s not, or at least not as much as I expected. The image, though, doesn’t have a look as though it’s been worked over with digital touch ups, and detail is still quite high, so I assume this presentation retains the original look of the film. In the end I guess I was just shocked how smooth the image came out in the end.

The transfer comes out looking quite good, though not surprising considering the film is only a couple of years old.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Blu-ray edition comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The film is reflective and other than a few sequences it’s very quiet. There’s no score to speak of, and dialogue and most of the sound effects remain in the fronts. There’s some decent use of the surrounds, including bird chirps sounding as though they’re coming from all around you, to gun shots in one sequence. The opening also has a very good jump, but that’s about all of it in terms of making use of your sound system. In the end it’s not an aggressive mix but it works for the film and sounds absolutely clean and crisp.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Both the DVD and Blu-ray edition come with the same supplements, and they’re a disappointingly small selection, and as a whole they’re not all together that compelling.

First on the second disc is an interview with Götz Spielmann, running a rather long 35-minutes. I was disappointed not to see a commentary for this edition, maybe even from the director (even if it turned out to be subtitled) but maybe I’m now okay with that after the interview. It’s not a terrible interview but it’s also not a terribly compelling one. He spends a good chunk of it explaining what he doesn’t like about most movies, which is fine and dandy, as it gives one a better idea about his tastes and his techniques, but then it ends up with this “greater-than-thou” cloud hanging over the entire feature, especially since he immediately opens (and I mean immediate; the interview opens instantaneously once the feature starts and I had to wonder if I had actually missed something) stating he’s an “intellectual” filmmaker. He talks about making the film, shooting on location, his strive for authenticity (explaining how dialogue in movies sound fake, and how he tries to work around that,) and his distaste for film scores. Despite some decent material in its rather long 35-minutes it’s still a tad dry and a touch pompous. Though considering I seem to hate David Mamet commentaries while others like them it could be just me. This feature is presented in 1080p/24hz.

Not a whole lot better, but still containing some decent items, is The Making of Revanche, a 36-minute making of documentary on the film. This is primarily made up of behind-the-scenes home video footage with Spielmann directing a selection of scenes. It’s interesting, I must admit, watching the director and his actors talk out the sequences, building on what Spielmann mentioned in his interview on how he would build his scenes. Intercut in here are interviews, primarily with Spielmann. Again, a touch on the dry side but there were quite a few good moments in here that made up for that. Still might not be a must-see feature, though. The feature is presented in 1080i/60hz.

The best feature on here is the last big one, a short student film made by Spielmann in 1984 called Foreign Land. It first opens with a 3-minute director’s introduction where the Spielmann feels he found his “filmic language” rather early, then moving on to his memories of the shoot (the location had no road to it, no hot water, and no power, making it a difficult film to shoot.) The film itself, running 45-minutes, is actually quite good and worth viewing. Though it’s a student film it’s confidently made and feels quite professional. Spielmann’s incredible ability at capturing nature (which highlights the second half of Revanche) is on full display here as he covers the day to day life of a boy and a farm hand working a farm in the middle of nowhere. I guess one could call it a meandering film (it really doesn’t have much of a plot per se and at times feels like small skits) but it still manages to move briskly and looks rather lovely (it also has a sly sense of humour.) Disappointingly, while a couple of features on here are presented in 1080p, this one is presented in 1080i. It still looks good, cleaned up beautifully with striking colours, but there are some noticeable artifacts, specifically in the patterns on some of the clothing in the film, which present jaggies or jittering effects. Slightly disappointing but it’s still quite watchable.

The disc supplements then conclude with the film’s American theatrical trailer.

The included booklet comes with an okay essay by Armond White, though he yet again falls into the trap of validating his opinions by comparing Spielmann to other directors like Bergman and Dreyer instead of just focusing on Spielmann’s own strengths as a filmmaker.

The short film saves the supplements but otherwise it’s a disappointing roster. Considering how new the film was, though, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the lack of critical content.

6/10

CLOSING

I’m happy Criterion was able to release this film, even if the supplements aren’t up to their usual standards. It’s a newer film but they have still managed to gather some great features for newer releases, such as the ones found on their IFC releases like Che and Gomorrah. Still they should give this film the exposure it certainly deserves (I feel bad enough I had actually never heard of it until it was nominated for Best Foreign Film last year.) Despite the mediocre supplements I still give it a hearty recommendation because of its video and audio presentation, which are both incredibly strong.


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