Do Revenge is wickedly entertaining and full of surprises.
This review of the Netflix film Do Revenge (2022) does not contain spoilers or any significant plot points.
A few months ago, Netflix streamed a French adaptation of a modern retelling of Dangerous Liaisons, a basic social media update of the classic work that had more in common with Cruel Intentions spin on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s classic work. The film was all style and offered little substance to explain their menacing actions. However, their new movie, Do Revenge, has plenty of style, substance, and subversive dark comedic themes. Those mainly include modern cruel intentions, if you will, of today’s oblivious narcissism in a social influencer world.
Do Revenge follows Drea (Camila Mendes), a social media star and star student on scholarship at a prestigious private high school. She has goals, like getting into Yale and eventually Harvard Law. And why not? Drea is brilliant, beautiful, ambitious, and cunning. A political animal by nature, she has the world not by a string but by any popular social media application. It also happens to be her birthday, and the entire school has turned out, including her close group of friends, led by her best friend Tara (Alisha Boe) and her boyfriend, the most popular guy in school, Max (Austin Abrams).
The night ends with Max telling Drea that he loves her. She is going away to a Tennis camp this summer. Max requests a “little video” of her to keep him warm on those cold summer nights, I guess. Drea obliges but finds it was sent to everyone in her school the following day. She punches Max, deservingly, in the face. The principal puts her on probation, and Max gets off without a slap on the wrist. Drea then meets Eleanor (a strong Maya Hawke), a student who is transferring to Drea’s school for her senior year. Eleanor shares a similar story of her being ostracized for her sexual orientation. Drew recognizes an opportunity, as they both can get revenge on their sworn enemies since no one will know they are acquaintances.
Do Revenge was directed by Jennifer Kaylin Robinson, who co-wrote the script with fellow Sweet Vicious writer Celeste Ballard (we will forgive her for Space Jam: A New Legacy). Robinson, whose Someone Great remains one of my favorite original streaming romantic comedies and helped Taika Waititi pen a hilarious script with this year’s Thor: Love and Thunder, are on point here. She helps breathe new life into the genre by not solely focusing on the usual high school tropes and, along with Ballard, brilliantly folding in wicked and insightful moments of dark humor. Most of that is by Drea playing a straight man to Abram’s Max, subverting the #MeToo movement, and recognizing our leaders are often the ones committing the greatest sins.
The performances are excellent, with Hawke showing her range and Mendes finally finding a project that utilizes all her talents. These two have great chemistry and Mendes’s ability to allow her character to be three-dimensional — when it could have been a caricature of so many other teen dramas — adds greater depth than expected. I would also like to mention a trio of great cameos from Never Rarely Sometimes Always’s Talia Ryder, a hilarious Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones), and one we are not allowed to mention by name per screener guidelines.
You may find the film’s big plot twist a stretch, but it works. You may find it odd that a movie so unconventional wraps up so conventionally. However, this is a smart and clever script, even though you can see the direct influences. Do Revenge will draw comparisons to a fusion of Cruel Intentions meets Strangers on a Train, though not as truly ruthless as the first or Hitchcockian as the latter. Still, the final product is wickedly entertaining and full of surprises.
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