Like the teenage girls it focuses on, there is more than meets the eye with the Netflix original film Do Revenge. With muted pastels and a killer soundtrack mixed with throwback classics and modern hits, this smart, twisted, satire takes a hammer at modern femininity and a post #MeToo world.
Written by Celeste Ballard and director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Hawkeye), Camila Mendes’ Drea (Riverdale) is the scholarship student everyone at her affluent Miami high school seemingly loves. Her rich friends throw her parties, people fulfill her every demand, her boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams, Euphoria) makes sure she is in Teen Vogue, and her application to Yale is all but accepted. After a sex tape she sends Max gets leaked and her boyfriend subsequently punched and dumped, Drea is left with not much else besides her education, her summer job, and heaps of rage.
At tennis camp, after her tape gets out, she meets Eleanor (Maya Hawke, Stranger Things) a young woman transferring to Drea’s school and dealing with her own trauma and anger. Years ago, she told another camper that she was gay and was brutally isolated from the other girls. Drea sympathizes and the girls decide to come together and wreak revenge on Eleanor’s tormentor, Max and his loyal followers, and anyone else in their way.
While the plot may seem convoluted on paper, Do Revenge is deliciously fun. If Hitchcock directed the baby of Clueless and Cruel Intentions (Sarah Michelle Gellar plays the tough headmistress of their school), it would be this film. Twists come out of nowhere, but feel fresh. Ballard and Robinson’s dialogue is quick and witty, referencing everything from Fatal Attraction to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion to Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman. The soundtrack is full of 90s rock and modern pop, giving it the teen movie feel.
The last third of the film makes some questionable choices that aren’t seen through narratively but that is saved by Robinson’s direction and Mendez and Hawke’s chemistry. The two play off each other so well, finishing one another’s sentences and balancing their character’s moods. Mendes’ rightfully angry and determined energy perfectly juxtaposes Hawke’s laid-back and slightly insecure Eleanor. Sophie Turner and Sarah Michelle Gellar pop up in “long-form” cameos but perfect melt into the glittery fucked up world Robinson has created.
While Do Revenge really is a two-hander between Mendes and Hawke, Austin Abrams plays the perfect manipulative boyfriend. Giving off psychotic Timothée Chalamet vibes, Abrams proves he is more than the supportive boyfriend type on Euphoria.
What Do Revenge does well is that its characters feel grounded in this vibrant world. Robinson uses the pain and betrayal of a sex tape being exposed or being labeled a predator for being gay and pins them up against a hyper-exaggerated world to show the very real amount of rage and restraint women must go through in order to live through our society. Funny and biting, Do Revenge is a twisted teenage dream you won’t want to wake up from.
Do Revenge is streaming on Netflix now.