Revenge Review: Camila Mendes Creates a Wicked Version of Mean Girls

Alfred Hitchcock’s influence is evident in Netflix’s teen dark comedy take revenge, It was inspired by his 1951 thriller stranger on the trainwhich in turn was inspired by a novel The Talented Mr. Ripley Author Patricia Highsmith. But instead of focusing on a twisty murder scheme, take revenge It focuses on a plot to destroy the social status of two members of the mob.

The film fits neatly into the theory of a dark comedy about the ruthlessness of teenage girls – think heathers either mean Girls, Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (co-writer) Thor: Love and Thunderproducer of sweet / vicious) weaves a swift 2022 update of style. A few romantic subplots slow down the film’s midpoint, but by the end, the film regains its momentum and pulls together for a satisfying ending.

[Ed. note: This review contains setup spoilers for Do Revenge.]

Camila Mendes and Maya Hawk take revenge, wearing fancy outfits in front of a spectacular backdrop

Photo: Kim Sims / Netflix

take revenge Follows Daria (Camila Mendes), formerly the most popular girl in school until her reputation tanked – not only because her ex-boyfriend Max released her sex tape, but also because she later punched him in the face. Drea attends her exclusive Miami Pre school on a scholarship, while her ex (Austin Abrams) comes from a wealthy family. He has more social capital than him, so he is able to turn his friends and the rest of the school against him, claiming that a video leaked from his phone and he assaulted her for no reason. Daria just wants to grit her teeth and get through senior year, but that changes when she meets transfer student Eleanor (Maya Hawke).

Years ago, Eleanor became a social pariah when her crush Carissa (Ava Capri) spread a rumor that Eleanor grabbed her and forcibly kissed her. After landing in the same school as Carissa, Eleanor is horrified to see her again. After an emotional moment in the bathroom, Eleanor and Dria bond with those who wronged them, and plan revenge – but with an important caveat. The two decide to swap goals of vengeance: Daria will take down Carissa, while Eleanor will infiltrate Max’s friend group for ultimate revenge.

Like other films in the Mean-Girls High School subgenre, take revenge Focuses on complex social conspiracies and vicious popular factions. But it’s not derivative or a cliche: instead, it’s a natural evolution of this type of film for 2022. Some parts of high school are stagnant, but youth culture evolves rapidly, so teen movies—especially content that adopt or pay tribute to the old— risk looks old, take revenge Robinson and co-writer Celeste Ballard dodge that curse because of the way some plot points smartly updated.

A slender blond boy in front of a banner that says cis hetero men champion female-identifying student leagues.  Behind him, three men clap

Photo: Kim Sims / Netflix

For one thing, Max is a villain for 2022 — a good-looking straight rich white guy who uses demonstrative public awareness to hide his true motives. And as a privileged young man, Max is basically untouchable. But that simply means that Dre and Eleanor will have to come up with an even more complicated plan to take him down — and initially, that makes them easier to root for.

But as their actions progress, their passions grow. Hawke and Mendes do a great job of never giving the audience an obvious one to root for. At first, their friendship seems inspired, as they unite against those who wronged them. But then it becomes one-sided and poisonous. And then it turns into something else entirely.

It’s one hell of a ride, all done with soft, impact-worthy pastels. Cause like movies heathers And mean Girls They became so iconic because of their strong visual palettes that played with the conventions of adolescence idealized in their respective eras. take revenge The trend continues under social media hashtags to update the look of the film for those familiar with the perfectly calibrated aesthetic, whether it’s “Instagram Witch” or #glamgirl.

Four girls in pastel school uniforms sit around a fountain

Photo: Kim Sims / Netflix

When the film focuses on revenge plots, or Eleanor and Dre’s increasingly toxic relationship, it is sharp and tight. But in between, some romantic B-plots start coming into the center. Dria hooks up with rebel artist Russ (Rish Shah), a friend of Carissa’s, while Eleanor flirts with Max’s sister Gabby (Talia Ryder). While some of those scenes are sweet, none of this relationship does much to make Eleanor or Dre more sympathetic or more nuanced. They seem to exist in the sense that teen movies need compulsive romance, and nothing more. They slow down the film by dragging it out at the end.

In the end, though, the film moves back to Eleanor and Dre — and for the better. A series of twists and turns pulls them back together, and they play off each other in deliciously clumsy ways. At some point, it looks like the film will turn into a moral statement about the dangers of revenge, especially when Dre’s college plans are put in jeopardy. But Robinson and Ballard deftly avoid those pitfalls, proving that they understand what audiences really want for these types of movies: the bizarre thrill of watching vicious teenage girls get what they want. They go to great lengths to form complex relationships. With each other. Without spoiling too much, Eleanor and Dre both get what they want, and what they deserve. It’s a satisfying conclusion that doesn’t punish or praise them. Just ignore cheesy epilogues where they seduce their potential love interests.

take revenge Debuts on Netflix on September 16.

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