Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and starring Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke and Riverdale’s Camila Mendes, Netflix’s Do Revenge was set up to be a success. With an audience score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as some adequate reviews, the film triumphed in being at least watchable. But that still begs the question: Is it good?
Do Revenge focuses on two teenage girls, Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke) as they work together to take down their two biggest rivals. For Drea, this is her ex-boyfriend, Max, who leaked an intimate video of her to their entire school. For Eleanor, this is her old crush, Carissa, who spread a nasty rumor about her when they were kids. Since they can’t do their own dirty work due to fear of punishment, Drea and Eleanor team up to "do revenge."
A Twisted Friendship
Most of the film focuses on the two characters together as they plot and scheme their way to conquering their enemies. Drea is a cliché popular girl who fell from grace due to the leaked video and Eleanor is a classic geek character who just wants to hang out with her pet lizard and get through her final year of high school. That’s fine, maybe a little overused and a bit boring, but there’s nothing wrong with these characters and their relationship, right? Wrong. Eleanor and Drea do some extremely twisted and sick things throughout the movie, including: leaking intimate private texts, drugging students and then blaming another girl for it, and framing someone for drug abuse. At one point, Eleanor purposefully hits Drea with her car, and right before that, she threatened to send Drea’s completely innocent mother to prison just so Drea would do what she wanted. Needless to say, these two characters are psychopaths.
While watching this film, I found myself wondering, “Does this make sense?” In the literal meaning, yes, it does. I understood the plot, I just didn’t get it. So much was happening and we were just expected to go along with all of it. Were we supposed to root for Drea and Eleanor? Were we supposed to hate them? It’s not clear what the film was going for here. Perhaps this was left vague so audiences could decipher their own impressions of the characters, but it just felt more like lazy writing. Drea and Eleanor could have been complete lunatics who destroyed their enemies and themselves in the process. Instead, we got two people whose actions piled on top of each other until they were extremely unbelievable characters.
While watching this film, it felt like the mood was off. It was fun and playful, but with dark undertones. This juxtaposition isn’t a bad thing, but these tones weren’t executed well enough to be a satisfying asset to the movie. Particularly, this was an issue with the character Eleanor.
I’m a fan of Maya Hawke, and she did a fantastic job in this movie. However, Eleanor was a little weird. At first, she’s this nice, shy girl who wants to keep her head down until she graduates. At the end, it’s revealed that Eleanor was in charge all along, manipulating Drea and the other characters to get her revenge. I understood adding this plot twist and why it should have worked, but it just didn’t pan out to an exciting shift and I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it was a pacing issue; Eleanor and Drea make up surprisingly quickly after Eleanor threatens and nearly kills Drea. They then take down Max together and stay friends. They even win back both of their romantic partners despite all of the drama. Why did they get a redemption arc? It didn’t make sense why all of these characters were suddenly willing to forgive them. And Eleanor was the craziest one of all, but she got a best friend and a girlfriend from all of her horrible acts. We should have seen Eleanor and Drea crash and burn and stay that way, or if the pacing had been slowed down, the original ending of the film could have been a fulfilling conclusion to the storyline, as it would have allowed for more time to justify the characters’ redemptions.
Is the Movie Good?
Finally, it’s time to answer the question I had in the back of my mind the entire time I was watching the film: Is this movie good? Honestly, it’s hard to say. There were moments and features that I loved about this movie. The aesthetic was particularly enjoyable. From the settings to the outfits, the movie was definitely pretty to look at. The acting was spectacular. Specifically, Austin Abrams, who plays Max, did a fantastic job of portraying a classic rich white guy who pretends to be a feminist but is really just a huge jerk. The plot was interesting, and so was the idea of two girls going to ridiculous lengths to exact revenge.
But there were a lot of issues with this film as well. As I mentioned earlier, the tone of the film was ambiguous and hard to follow. This was a huge downside, as it made me impartial to the characters, not wanting to see them succeed or their downfall, and this sucked a great deal of the joy out of the plot. I didn’t care about the characters because they stopped feeling real. Drea, Eleanor, and Max were complete psychopaths that were way too dramatic. It felt extremely orchestrated and odd. The pacing was too fast. This gave a hurried feel to the movie, which took away time for the plot to fully develop. Then, a gigantic plot twist was thrown into the mix of an underdeveloped story. It was shocking, and not in a good way. So, is the film good? No. Is the film bad? Also no. It was okay. If you’re looking for an easy distraction from responsibilities for a few hours, then I’d recommend watching Do Revenge. If you want a film you can genuinely enjoy and pay attention to, look somewhere else.
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