Do Revenge Movie Review: A fun spin on a familiar ride
This film is Strangers on a Train-meets-Mean Girls-meets-John Tucker Must Die, but it never forgets to have fun even with its convoluted narrative
At one point in Do Revenge, Eleanor (a brilliant Maya Hawke) declares, “Teenage girls are psychopaths.” Over the years, many filmmakers seem to have subscribed to this by giving us high-school films that are less coming-of-age, and more ‘coming of rage’. Topics that usually get handled include bullying, ostracisation, and harmful stereotyping, which generally results in rebellion/outbursts or occasionally, even murder. In Netflix’s latest high-school film, Do Revenge, we see many of these boxes being ticked, but it doesn’t really go the murders route even though inspiration for the film seems to be Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. In a sense, this film is Strangers on a Train-meets-Mean Girls-meets-John Tucker Must Die, but it never forgets to have fun even with its convoluted narrative.
Cast: Maya Hawke, Camila Mendes, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Streaming on: Netflix
Drea Torres (a terrific Camila Mendes) is the Queen Bee of Rosehill Country Day. She is in the top clique, dating the Head Boy, Max (Austin Abrams). She is everything every girl wants to be… and then one day, she is not. When a private video of hers gets leaked, she gets ostracised, and the school reprimands her for punching Max instead of punishing him for leaking the video, a claim he denies. At this point, we get introduced to the ‘awkward’ but bold Eleanor, who comes to Rosehill to face the crushing memory of her first crush outing her sexuality in public. Hitchcock comes in at this point, with Drea and Eleanor deciding to recreate Strangers on a Train in Rosehill. If bringing down Max is straight out of John Tucker Must Die, then the girls figuring out their priorities reminds you of films like Mean Girls and Clueless. To her credit, director Kaityn never once forgets to have fun while revelling in the tropes and occasionally subverting them, even though the central objective is to show us the psyches of present-day high schoolers.
We see how labels about sexuality are easily used to defend despicable behaviour. We see how optics matter a lot in this world. Of course, these kids are privileged and know how to play their cards. It is interesting to see the makers take a dig at how 'wokeness' is a joke in many places. For example, the subplot of how patriarchy, when questioned, overcompensates with performative wokeness, is a terrific layer.
The film never goes too deep and this is by design, of course, as it is content being a generic high-school story with fleeting ingenuity, terrific performances, an upbeat soundtrack, and flashy production values. Call it a typical Netflix film, and let’s just be glad that there is not too much to complain about.