The film directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson stars Riverdale alum Camila Mendes and Stranger Things star Maya Hawke
Last Updated: 07.42 PM, Sep 16, 2022
Story: When Drea Torres’ sex tape is leaked online, she is left devastated and almost loses her chance to get into her dream college. She tries to exact revenge on the person who wronged her, so she joins hands with Eleanor, the new student at her school. They plan to ‘do’ each other’s revenge.
Review: In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 thriller Strangers on a Train, a psychopath and a tennis player strike a deal to exchange murders in order to avoid arrest. In Hitchcock’s film, it was two men who hatch an elaborate plan, but in Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s Do Revenge, it’s two teenage girls who carry out a somewhat similar strategy. The difference is, that they do not intend to murder their wrongdoers. Although the basic premise of the film is inspired by Strangers on a Train, Do Revenge is more of a homage to the teen movies of the past such as Heathers, Clueless, and Mean Girls. And though the film is not flawless, it is one of the better teen films to come out in recent times.
The film opens with Drea Torres (Camila Mendes), a student at the elite private school, Rosehill. She is the “it girl” who is part of the most popular group in the school. She is proud, confident, stylish, and mean (think Regina George from Mean Girls). She is admired by many and hated by a few others. But unlike her ‘friends’, Drea comes from a middle-class background and had to work hard to climb up her social status. Her dream is to secure a place at Yale on a scholarship. But her plans take a backseat when an intimate video that she shared with her boyfriend Max (Austin Abhramas), the most sought-after boy in the school, is leaked online.
Enter Eleanor (Maya Hawke), who is the exact opposite of Drea. She is queer, mostly invisible, and prefers hanging out with her pet lizard than with a human. She meets Drea during a tennis camp, but they don’t strike an instant friendship. When Drea learns that Eleanor holds a grudge against one of the students at Drea’s school, she comes up with a plan. They team up to teach a lesson to each other's wrongdoers. Eleanor starts to hang out with Drea’s former boyfriend, and Drea joins the school farm to get close to Carissa (Ava Capri), who started a rumour about Eleanor during summer camp. How they proceed with the plan forms the rest of the film.
The best aspect of the film is its lead actresses Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke. Mendes and Hawke are just perfect for their respective parts. Drea comes off as very tough and badass, but there is a certain amount of vulnerability as well. She is very conscious of who she is and where she is coming from. At times, as an audience, we find it difficult to relate or empathise with her because, although she has been wronged by the person she trusted the most, she is equally mean to many others. Eleanor transforms her personality and undergoes a major makeover to fit in with the ‘cool’ gang. But her character lacks depth as not much is disclosed about her upbringing or who she really is. Hawke aces the role nevertheless.
Robinson and writer Celeste Ballard have incorporated cues and references from the teen movies of the 80s and 90s into the film. They deserve praise for creating a more updated version of the familiar storylines that we have seen in high-school films, keeping in mind the interests of today’s Gen-Z crowd. There is a certain degree of predictability, but we can’t complain considering the genre the film falls under. The film is also visually pleasing and the costume design by Alana Morshead deserves extra points. But at almost two hours, the film seems to be too long. The twist in the second half does keep us invested in the story for some time but crisper editing would have taken the film to greater heights.
There is not much to talk about the supporting characters but one person who stood out was Erica Norman, played brilliantly by Sophie Turner. Her comic timing is spot-on. Alisha Boe’s Tara and Austin Abrams’ Max are characters that aren’t fully developed. The film also features Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rish Shah, Eliza Bennett, and Talia Ryder.
Verdict: The teen comedy genre is already saturated with a plethora of films and TV shows that can easily be accessed on OTT platforms. Despite its shortcomings, Do Revenge comes as a breath of fresh air offering a unique twist to familiar troupes and storylines, and is an enjoyable watch.