chasing criterions: #502 – revanche [spielmann, 2008]
if there is one trend i’ve observed common in the limited batch of austrian cinema i’ve consumed, it’s a notable leaning toward restraint. as evidenced by the nation’s more renowned international exports, a deceptive stillness in narrative thrust isn’t the worst way to put the hooks in; patient pacing and sparse, elegant visuals substituting for the forced momentum your more restless hollywood helmer might apply. with götz spielmann’s brooding heist-gone-wrong thriller revanche, it’s a suitably effective method; even if an approach to somewhat belie the potentials for a quicker flow of tangly plot intersections laid out by the circumstance and coincidence of its premise.
spielmann is notably more interested in meditating on the internal webs of existential crisis plaguing his characters than accentuating the ironies of their interconnectedness, and thus, a key mid-point plot shift prompts further simmering when it would usually provoke expected eruption. even beyond more obvious themes of revenge and redemption, spielmann is pondering here what constitutes ones character, and how that essence dictates the trajectory of lives. in one scene, policeman robert (andreas lust) tries to convince his wife against the idea of adoption as one cannot vouch for the origins of the child’s inherent attributes. a less nuanced filmmaker might overplay the irony of this later on, but spielmann allows these thematic conjunctions to quietly ripple throughout the lives of his characters, connecting gritty urban hellholes and idyllic countrysides under one resonant theme. the opening credits shot quickly becomes crystal clear.