Coming Soon: Hevn (Revenge) 2018 - Reviewed

Vendetta is a dark necessity of the human condition.  It has been explored, deconstructed, and exploited throughout the history if cinema.  Kjersti Steinsbo's debut feature film, Hevn (Revenge) takes an inverted approach to the rape revenge genre.  Combining crisp cinematography, a cadre of tense performances, and a surprisingly ambiguous presentation, this is an interesting foray into extremely dark subject matter.  

Rebekka is a travel journalist who insinuates herself into the home of Morten and Nina, an idyllic couple in a quiet Norwegian town.  It is quickly revealed that Rebekka is not whom she appears to be and as she enacts her dangerous quest for justice, the sins of the past return to haunt not just the prey, but also the harrier.  Stensbo's script is adapted from Ingvar Ambjornsen's novel, The Doll in the Ceiling. While the subject matter is a mostly "been there, done that" affair, Siren Jorgensen's unique central performance transmutes what would have been pedantic revenge schlock into a textured descent into the dark recesses of the soul.  

Vengeance is often a complicated animal, compounded by the flaws of the adjutant, and Jorgensen's subtle, yet jarring commitment to this is truly stunning to behold.  Her chemistry, particularly with Maria Bock's award-winning turn as faithful wife Nina is extraordinary.  Frode Winther rounds out the central trifecta as the possibly duplicitous Morten.  While this is clearly Jorgensen's story, Winther does surprisingly well with the material.  His transition throughout is elusive, undergoing several changes before the harrowing conclusion.  

Anna Myking's evocative cinematography mixes breathtaking wide shots of the country side with sterile interior closeups.  Everything about the world of Hevn has a synthetic feel, mirroring the character's demeanors as they spin closer towards a final resolution.  Ultimately, this is a film that's been done many times over, but Stensbo's patient, almost lyrical control of her cast and crew is exceptional.  There is an eerie, almost primal undercurrent that churns beneath the suburban veneer of comfort, leaking into the water and air at every turn.  This is, perhaps, done with intent to remind the viewer that there is no innocence left in an apathetic world. 

Coming soon to digital on demand, Hevn is an excellent addition to the revenge genre.  Created by a predominately female cast and crew and directed with a remarkable amount of restraint, this is a quiet tempest of a film.  Past transgressions, the burden of guilt, and a frayed sense of retribution are conjoined into a slow burn thriller whose implications will remain in the mind's eye long after the credits have rolled, conjured by a director whose debut shows that she has a lot more to show the world.

- Kyle Jonathan