The best praise one pays Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s viciously delectable “Do Revenge” is that it ought to stand alongside the numerous iconic teen flicks it each cribs from and pays homage to. The premise, which follows two teenage women opting to hunt revenge on each other’s rivals sounds, upon first inspection, like “Strangers on a Practice” at a complicated non-public faculty. However that’s too simplistic a take. In any case, Robinson’s venture owes much less to Hitchock’s notorious traditional than to the likes of “Heathers,” “Imply Women” and “Merciless Intentions” — influences the movie wears proudly on its trendy and appropriately throwbacky Y2K-era sleeves.
You may see why Robinson (“Somebody Nice”) and co-writer Celeste Ballard (“Area Jam: A New Legacy”) would need to take up Patricia Highsmith-via-Hitchcock’s narrative and ensnare it on the planet of petty highschool politics. The intrigue of two strangers, on this case Drea (“Riverdale” star Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke of “Stranger Issues”), conjuring wildly outlandish plans geared toward taking down their respective bullies (“We must always crew up and do one another’s revenge,” as they put it, ergo the movie’s title), will get a a lot wanted jolt when framed throughout the world of queen bees and wannabes. Nobody is extra ruthless than a teenage lady, particularly one not too long ago scorned.
That might be Drea. Initially of the movie, she’s on high of the world. She could also be a scholarship child however she doesn’t let on that she wasn’t born into the wealth and privilege she navigates so effectively. Not solely is she a job mannequin, she’s a much-dreaded Alpha. She’s received stellar grades. A killer wardrobe. A hunk of a boyfriend (Max, performed by “Euphoria”’s Austin Abrams). A preferred posse. And, most significantly, a surefire path to her dream future at Yale. But no sooner has Mendes’ voice over tell us simply how rigorously curated Drea’s life actually is (and the way swiftly she’s prepared to wield her standing towards those that’d cross her) than we see her fall from grace. A leaked intercourse tape turns her right into a pariah simply in time for summer season trip. And so, whereas her erstwhile pals gallivant to Europe, she’s caught working at a tennis camp. No less than it offers her time to lick her wounds and plan her comeback.
Enter Eleanor. The place Drea is gorgeously put collectively (kudos to costume designer Alana Morshead, who was clearly having a ball outfitting these varied teenage women as in the event that they have been staging a late-’90s indie editorial unfold), Eleanor is dowdy and demure. The 2 hit it off when Eleanor — once more, saddled with some clunky voiceover to assist clean the narrative alongside — insinuates herself into Drea’s life and inadvertently, it appears, finally ends up establishing the movie’s central conceit: Why wouldn’t they every assist the opposite out in settling scores with those that have scarred them? Couldn’t Eleanor worm her method into Max’s internal circle and make him pay for leaking her intercourse tape, an accusation the “unintended feminist” adamantly denies? And couldn’t Drea stage successful on that “crunchy lesbian” who, as Eleanor tells is, outed and humiliated a younger Eleanor whereas at summer season camp a number of years prior?
As “excellent crimes” go, their plans are decidedly much less violent than these in Highsmith and Hitchcock’s creativeness. However not for which can be they any much less vicious. The 2 women, who should hold their distance as soon as faculty begins up once more, quickly develop shut as they relish the prospect to provide into their most Machiavellian impulses. It helps that Mendes and Hawke have crackling chemistry. And that each actresses are keyed into the darkly sardonic humorousness Robinson nurtures all through. The 2, like Talia Ryder (who performs Max’s dry-witted sister and Eleanor’s love curiosity), Alisha Boe (Drea’s former BFF and Max’s present GF) and Sophie Turner (in a hilarious scene-stealing cameo of a job), actually discover their groove in Robinson and Ballard’s archly self-aware dialogue.
It is a movie the place Eleanor can ruefully notice that she’s a “Billie Jean King in a sea of Maria Sharapovas” — whereas studying Highsmith’s novel, no much less! — and the place she and Drea can provide you with the notion of giving off “Glennergy” (i.e. once you appear to be Glenn Shut in “Deadly Attraction”) with out it ever making you are feeling such as you’re listening in on two wildly literate teen women set on revenge. Not fairly camp, the tone right here is appropriately stylized to keep away from letting its honest moments really feel didactic.
The movie’s tongue could also be planted squarely in its cheek but it surely nonetheless acknowledges the lurid pleasures available in a well-deployed pop-culture reference. Add within the requisite makeover-to-get-the-popular-girls-to-like-you montage, a titillating closeup of a croquet mallet throughout a pivotal scene, a Fats Boy Slim needle-drop that’ll have you ever questioning whether or not “Bittersweet Symphony” may even make the reduce — to not point out the presence of Sarah Michelle Gellar herself — and also you’ve received the makings of an immediately quotable traditional.
With a late-in-the-film twist that’s greatest left unspoiled and a thematic throughline about why we’re so keen and so snug vilifying (and in flip glorifying) such villainy in teenage women, “Do Revenge” is a frothy delight. It’s no accident its most affecting scene is about to Billie Eillish’s disarming and ironically-titled tune “Happier Than Ever.” Virtually functioning like a distillation of Robinson’s movie, Eillish’s track begins like a wounded confession and ultimately roars itself right into a rancorous cacophony, capturing the plights and slights of teenage heartbreak and despair. Tune and movie alike ask you to lose your self in such uncooked emotion — to excuse, even, the deliberately playful grammar faux-pas in its title and to revel as a substitute, in its finally winking ethical of a story.