Featuring two fantastic leading performers, countless twists, and an unexpectedly entertaining skewering of the modern patriarchy, Do Revenge is one of the better teen movies of the last five years.
Teenage girls are sociopaths, or so we’re told in Netflix’s latest offering, Do Revenge, a mostly successful retread of well-worn teen movie tropes that finds hidden emotional depth with a fresh approach to its characters.
As a genre, the quality of high school movies typically oscillates somewhere between Mean Girls and Mean Girls 2, with genuine explorations of the teenage experience often tragically substituted for cringe-inducing dialogue and ripped twenty-somethings. Now, that’s all present and accounted for here, but beyond the pristine fashion, immense wealth and devastating put-downs, could that be…depth? Lo and behold, I think you’re right.
First of all, let’s get the basics of the plot out of the way: Rosehill Country Day High School’s Drea Torres (Camila Mendes) finds herself ousted from her position as queen bee when her popular boyfriend Max anonymously releases an intimate video of her. Together with fellow outcast Eleanor (Maya Hawke), the pair vow revenge – unsurprisingly, given the title – against those who have wronged them.
It’s rather unsettling to see a Netflix movie with this level of quality across the board, truth be told, especially notable as it’s under a film genre that is often defined by its style-over-substance philosophy. For instance, the punchy late-10s pop soundtrack , combined with a kaleidoscopic rainbow colour palette – perfectly captures the current generation and its specific culture. On top of that, the writing is sharp, prescient and somehow makes Gen-Z dialect not only tolerable but engaging:
“You’re giving off some serious ‘Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction’ energy”
“Yes, you’re radiating Glennergy right now”
The performances simply radiate ‘Glennergy’ too, with Mendes and Hawke committing fully to their roles as Drea and Eleanor, crafting a charming bond that feels emotionally grounded yet thoroughly melodramatic.
Honourable mentions also go to Austin Abrams as Max Broussard (truly the douchiest boy I’ve ever seen put to film), and Sophie Turner in a genuinely unhinged recurring cameo. Through its surprising number of twists and turns, some of which I simply did not see coming, the story takes the girls to unexpectedly self-reflective places. In fact, every woman in the piece is simultaneously victim and victimiser: the hero of their own story. This strategy affords each and every character an intensely human quality – caricatured and completely ridiculous, sure – but human nonetheless. However, the conflict at the heart of the piece seems to magically resolve itself with little of that aforementioned regard for character, and both of the obligatory romantic subplots feel especially forced.
This is a film that you have seen before, undoubtedly so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Featuring two fantastically game leading performers, countless twists, and an unexpectedly entertaining skewering of the modern patriarchy – just try not to chuckle at the ‘Cis Hetero Men Championing Female-Identifying Students League’ – it’s clear to me that Do Revenge is one of the better teen movies of the last five years. Definitely closer to Mean Girls than Mean Girls 2.