Hey folks... Roy here with a look at HEVN, (a.k.a. REVENGE), a Norwegian thriller about a woman seeking retribution on a man for the damage he had inflicted on her family.
HEVN is a slow-burning thriller. Written for the screen and directed by first-time feature director Kjersti Steinsbø (from the novel Dukken I Taket by Ingvar Ambjørnsen), it begins with Rebecca (Siren Jørgensen), a woman traveling into an idyllic Western Norway village, a remote holiday getaway, and introducing herself as Andrea. She is looking for Morten Holand (Frode Winther), whom she says she wants to interview for a travel magazine. As she meets with Morten's outgoing wife Nina (Maria Bock), we can tell by her disconnection from Nina's friendliness and hospitality that she is here for something less than amicable. As she meets with Morten, she clutches something in her carrier bag. It is only the introduction to Nina and Morten's infant, Astrid, that prevents her from drawing out what is revealed to be a large kitchen knife to bury in Morten's heart.
HEVN is not the kind of revenge that you see in last year's REVENGE (2017), which is more about an action sequence... or in HOSTEL, where it's about seeing torturers face their own horrors at the hands of a vengeful killer. It's not... Punisher-eque. It isn't about the payoff or the violence, at all-- in fact, the most violent event in the story takes place off-screen. It's about someone working out a resolution, for themselves, for their family, and for someone who has been instrumental in damage to their life. It twists-- not Shymalan-ish surprises, but where the cliché usually bites you on the ass, instead, there is humanity and complexity.
When we see Morten finally laid bare, he is not a snarling, vicious monster; he's a snarling, vicious man. He reasons, and justifies, all of his crimes so well. As Rebekka strips him of the reasoning he has used to commit cruelty, we finally see him reduced to the underlying predator he actually is. Rebekka does not go about achieving smug, happy revenge. But she does manage to put Morten, and the damage he has done to her family, behind her at last, and in the process, allows Bimbo to answer for his role in Morten's crimes, as well.
The cast is brilliant. I can't say enough about Siren Jørgensen, who carries this movie on her shoulders in about 90% of it. Frode Winther makes Morten's layers seem normal, even at the awfulness underneath his golden boy veneer. And Maria Bock is incredible playing the wife caught up in Rebekka's revenge plot. But the supporting cast does an incredible job. In particular, Helene Bergsholm as troubled young woman Maya, who bears her own grudge against Morten, and her friend and former boss Bimbo (Anders Baasmo Christiansen), Morten's best friend and bartender at the pub inside Morten's inn. Bimbo's slow reveal throughout the story is an examination of our society and how we let injustices and crimes go for the sake of our own lives and conveniences. Bimbo becomes that person who owns up to his culpability and takes action.
If you like thrillers and foreign-language films, I cannot recommend this enough. Hard to believe this is Steinsbø's first time at bat. HEVN (REVENGE) opens in select theaters across the U.S. including Los Angeles Friday, August 17th.
-- Precious Roy