Review by Leah Kelly
Everyone loves nostalgia, and everyone loves aesthetics. Do Revenge (Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, 2022) is a product of these two concepts. Simultaneously stylish and curated enough that any screenshot could make it onto Instagram, and riddled with all the messines and cliches of classic teen films.
The story centres around Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke) who both had their lives ruined. Drea, by her ex boyfriend sharing revenge porn of her and Eleanor by the spreading of a rumour. Drea and Eleanor decide to ‘do revenge’ on each other’s enemies. Drea will take revenge on the girl who spread the rumour about Eleanor, and Eleanor will take revenge on Drea’s ex boyfriend.
This film feels, from beginning to end, like a love letter to the 90’s and early 2000s teen film updated for a modern audience. It sprinkles references to iconic teen films like Clueless, Cruel Intentions, Heathers and Mean Girls throughout. Sarah Michelle Gellar even makes an appearance as their school’s principal. The movie includes a makeover scene, while also having the characters refer to it as “so problematic”. This one scene sums up the main goal of the film: 90’s campy fun and references recontextualised for a Gen Z audience. The villain ex boyfriend character who is ‘top of the social hierarchy’ is no longer a one dimensional jock. He’s updated – a fake-woke posterboy for privilege who has painted nails and always carries around a digital camera we never see him use. Drea and Eleanor are complex, and toxic, and messy and not reduced to familiar stereotypes. The plot, while definitely inspired by older films, is not formulaic and does take turns you might not expect.
The film is really concerned with colour and aesthetic. Everyone wears bright and colourful clothes, especially pastels. Even their school uniform is green or purple pastel, depending on the day we are seeing. The colour palette is genuinely gorgeous, and makes it clear that everything about the film is extremely curated. The dialogue tries to be as current and as quotable as possible, incorporating words like ‘dragging’, ‘cringe’, ‘gagged’ and having a new witty quip every few lines. The soundtrack is impactful with its use of both throwback songs like ‘Dreams’ by the Cranberries and ‘Kids in America’, interspersed with songs by modern artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers. This further emphasises the nature of the film: familiar and nostalgic, but modern.
Do Revenge has all the tropes and fun that you would expect of a 90s film but updated to reflect a new generation. It’s a campy comedy which is entertaining and stylish from beginning to end. One of those rare pieces of teen media that feels like it was actually written by a young person. And if nothing else about the movie grabs you, it is really nice to look at.