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The Hollywood Insider Do Revenge Review

Photo: ‘Do Revenge’

Netflix’s track record of original films has been lackluster, to say the least.  The teen flick genre has also been on life support in recent years.  Put the two categories of films together and you have a list of titles that deservedly get lost in the shuffle on the streaming service’s catalog.  With all that in mind, a Netflix movie with the title ‘Do Revenge’ with the premise of two teenage girls in high school teaming up to exact revenge upon those who wronged them sounds like something worth scrolling past.  Netflix has a history of releasing similar films with a bland plot and cardboard characters only to be topped off with a predictable ending, so it’s hard to blame someone for hitting the play button with low expectations.

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Thankfully, those expectations can be safely set aside.  ‘Do Revenge’ is an invigorating modern spin on the subject of high school revenge that is somehow able to embrace its cartoonish nature and achieve the most out of its multidimensional characters, which are utilized to their fullest potential by exemplary performances.  Many twists and turns, save a few, did effectively catch the viewer off guard yet made sense within the context of the story.  This film is the first real win in Netflix’s original feature category and a return we did not know we needed to many classic teen dramedies such as ‘Clueless’ or ‘Mean Girls’.  

‘Do Revenge’ – The Cartoonish Side

The film knows very well the tropes and elements of a typical flick as well as modern teen culture itself.  It not only incorporates many of these aspects into its narrative, but adds its own unique twist on them as well.  Many things in the life of a typical Gen Z’er play a role in this film.  Things such as Instagram, college admissions, and invasion of privacy all add something to the story.  Many other moments throughout the film were taken up a notch in their ridiculousness without crossing the line of being phony.  Without spoiling anything, there’s one scene involving psychedelics at a dinner party that was definitely out there for a teen drama.  

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Another subtle yet highly effective way that the film embraces its wacky nature is in the form of its costumes. The costume work in this film goes beyond simple pirate school uniforms.  Wardrobe is heavily used to amplify the different characteristics and personalities of different cliques within the school.  Some of the characters themselves, in embracing the ridiculousness of teenage drama, do so in a very self-aware way.  Additionally, in implementing a modern spin on the coming-of-age genre, the film also mocks and plays off of a certain type of pseudo-wokeness we see on display everywhere nowadays.  The type of shameless pandering and empty rhetoric we see from those who claim to be proponents and allies of social change that’s all too familiar in our daily lives and across mainstream media. 

The film’s decision to implement and mock this sort of behavior is brilliant as it is another effective tool to get the viewer behind the main character’s goal of exposing these bad actors.  This is another message that the film seeks to get across, that these types of phony allies who shamelessly pander and have no real clue about how to achieve real progress usually have the most to hide.  It is really worth appreciating this thematic choice from the writers of the film, Celeste Ballard and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson.  Robinson in particular, especially after coming off of penning the script for Marvel Studios’Thor: Love and Thunder’ where her comedic sensibilities felt somewhat at odds with those of Taika Waititi’s, was finally allowed to let her own creative voice flourish with many unique and edgy decisions missing from the Marvel blockbuster.

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The Multidimensional Side

As mentioned earlier, the film miraculously finds a way to seamlessly blend its inherently ridiculous nature with its multidimensional characters.  This is largely due to the performances of its lead actors.  Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke were both tasked with playing characters with different sides to them.  Mendes’ character, Drea, was the schools’ queen bee for the longest time, so she naturally believes that any little thing can escalate and disrupt her social status.  Hawke’s character, Eleanor, is someone who wants to come out of the closet despite being surrounded by individuals who won’t necessarily let her or be as receptive or accepting of her as she would like, ultimately driving her to concoct elaborate and meticulously crafted revenge schemes.  She is someone who knows how to listen to and read people, meaning she also knows how to destroy them.  Some of the other actors in the film, such as Austin Abrams as the school’s popularity king and Drea’s ex, were also great.  Other notable names, like Sarah Michelle Gellar who returns to the high school drama scene after the classic ‘Cruel Intentions’ and ‘Game of ThronesSophie Turner, have small yet punchy roles in the film.   

What is also worth noting is that everything that transpires throughout the story does not feel forced or simply functions as a placeholder to be included because it has to.  Almost everything is earned and has a purpose within the context of the plot and the players involved in it. There are a few exceptions, however. Towards the end, a couple of the character decisions did feel a bit unearned or quick, one of the twists was a bit predictable, and one of the characters gives a standard villain monologue that crosses the line from self-reflectively ridiculous into just plain phony.  However, these were only a few weak beats out of many other solid moments.  Many strong films often stumble a bit in the third act, so these nitpicks were not so glaring. 

A Standout Netflix Film

Who would have predicted that the first solid Netflix film in far too long would come in the form of high school drama centered on the topic of teen revenge?  With stellar performances, real characters, timely messages, a strong sense of self-awareness, and effective plot twists, ‘Do Revenge’ is a win for Netflix films all around and a return to form for coming-of-age classics.

Cast: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sophie Turner

Written by: Celeste Ballard, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

Directed by: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

By Nader Chamas

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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