Revengers Tragedy

Revengers Tragedy


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

The opening scene is of a bus full of people, crashing in the main street of a village. No one comes to help. Everyone on the bus is dead. A bullet in the forehead to the lot of them.

Now forget about this scene. It's never explained, or referred to again. And, as far as I'm concerned, it belongs in a different movie.

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If you hated Shakespeare in high school, then there's no chance you're going to enjoy this. I simply refuse to believe that people spoke that way back then. It's all pretentious codswallop and any film that uses such dialogue - usually in an effort to "respect the original material" - is begging for critical praise. This film was made to be a show-off. And the result is unbearable.

The narrative is so out-of-focus and the characters so unrealistic one cannot figure out exactly what universe the film inhabits. Almost every character is without a name - Christopher Eccleston's is only revealed five minutes from the end - and all behave in a manner so camp they make Batman and Robin look like the Incredible Hulk. Julian Clary would turn away in shock. None of them appear to be gay, either.

The story goes with Eccleston, as Vindici, a man out for revenge on the wedding caterer who killed his wife. That man is The Duke (Derek Jacobi). And no, he's not the cool Duke that was in Escape From New York, he's, well...some sort of media mogul and philanderer. And a wedding caterer, to boot.

He has half a dozen sons, who are eager for him to die so they can seize his empire. The eldest (Eddie Izzard) befriends Vindici. And they uh...hang out.

Maybe this would be a better movie if they spoke something comprehensible, instead of arthouse-wannabe lingo. And if not, then it should remain a stage play. But none of this can be blamed on director Alex Cox, who does a great job giving dull scenes some momentum.

There is a nice touch at the beginning with two heavyweight boxers trying to psyche each other out before going head to head. Or so it would seem, until the referee pulls away a cover to reveal...table football. One of these bruisers is The Duke's and the other Lord Antonio's. There is a competition between these guys, which is never developed, nor understood.

You'll have a hard time understanding anything going on here, from the constantly invading satellite spycam to the incestual lust. Is this modern day Britain? A neo-fascist future? A gay resort full of high-tech TV cameras and spy equipment?

All good questions. Unfortunately, you'll find no answers. Or are we supposed to figure it out for ourselves? Oooohhhh, how arty! You can bet your bottom dollar many clueless eurotrash movie artists are going to praise the ingenuity and the daring. It's art for art's sake! What more do you want? about an actual movie? Art belongs in museums.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2002
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A modern day adaptation of Thomas Middleton's 17th century stage play.
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Angus Wolfe Murray *

Director: Alex Cox

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on the play by Thomas Middleton

Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Eddie Izzard, Derek Jacobi, Diana Quick, Sophie Dahl, Justin Salinger

Year: 2002

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 2002

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