REVIEW: ‘Do Revenge’ is Filled With People To Hate

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Do Revenge Review - But Why Tho

Do Revenge, the sophomore film from director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson is a pastel-soaked dark comedy that pulls elements of late 80s, 90s, and early aughts teen comedies and twists them together with a script co-written by Celeste Ballard and Robinson. The film also stars Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, Talia Ryder, Jonathan Daviss, and Sophie Turner.

Drea (Camila Mendes) is at the peak of her high school powers as the Alpha it-girl on campus. Everyone loves her (or they don’t have the social capital not to). But when a sex tape her boyfriend made is leaked, she crashes and burns while her boyfriend and king of the school, Max (Austin Abrams), is applauded for his apology. Drea finds out real quick how much the world turns on you if you’re a woman who has sex versus a man. Enter Eleanor (Maya Hawke), an awkward new transfer student who is angered to find out that she now has to go to school with her old bully, Carissa (Ava Capri), who started a nasty rumor about her in summer camp when they were 13. After a clandestine run-in at tennis camp, Drea and Eleanor form an unlikely and secret friendship to get revenge on each other’s tormentors.

With a pact to “do revenge” and bring down everyone, Drea and Eleanor start a mean girl campaign to bring down the mean girls by absolutely ruining the lives of those around them. Because of this, there isn’t a single person in Do Revenge that is likable, and, to be honest, that’s why it works. Awful things happen to awful people, and the cycle continues. The only difference is that our heroines at least have some semblance of reasoning to, well, do revenge. There is a lot to love about Do Revenge, but the standout is how the aesthetic blends with the sharp dialogue.

Some can dismiss the dialogue as vapid, but it works to capture hostility in politeness. It also captures the way young adults and women’s “mean girl” actions are heavily influenced by internalized misogyny and homophobia, replicating what they undergo from others – only Mean Girls gets this point across better and with more self-referential humor. Ultimately there are large gaps in the story that don’t get easily bridged thanks to an unfocused narrative that yo-yos between points as the twists happen throughout the story.

The film also attempts to make a statement about white men weaponizing “wokeness” to hide their negative behavior. While this is executed in a fairly clunky way, it’s still successful. Mainly in highlighting how privilege extends to being forgiven so long as you give yourself public lashings. Sure this is a high school setting, but I’m sure the bulk of us reading this review right now knows a Twitter man or two that gets away with the worst because he manages to use buzzwords and social media activism as a shield. Granted, this point goes over easier if the women you’re supposed to identify with as a viewer weren’t also horrible people who use their identity as a shield as well. They are shitty people who had people shitty people be shitty to them, especially when it comes to Drea. Well, Eleanor has a strong reason for her revenge, and one that grows as the person she’s targeting forgets it ever happened.

With near Clueless-aesthetic and the mean streak of Cruel Intentions (with a special cameo that makes this feel like a spiritual sequel), Do Revenge feels like it’s trying to capture the pastel-soaked past and by the third act, it works. It works because it finds its way as a Gen Z revenge plot that takes the tried and tested high school revenge narrative and fits it to current fears and insecurities and privileges. That said, I don’t think that many viewers will catch the 90s and early aughts soundtrack that absolutely rocks and somehow manages to be a love letter to all those teen movies both visually and lyrically while still making the narrative its own.

To be honest, I don’t know what to do with Do Revenge. It is somehow everything I like, yet the dialogue and plot holes wind up taking their toll on the film’s progress. Mendes is a true standout in the film, and she makes the film well worth the watch. That said, temper your expectations and get ready for the immediate want to watch the films it pays homage to.

Do Revenge is available to stream now, exclusively on Netflix.


Do Revenge
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

To be honest, I don’t know what to do with Do Revenge. It is somehow everything I like, yet the dialogue and plot holes wind up taking their toll on the film’s progress. Mendes is a true standout in the film, and she makes the film well worth the watch. That said, temper your expectations and get ready for the immediate want to watch the films it pays homage to.

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