Photo by: Netflix
Rating: 2.5/ 5
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s newest teen comedy, Do Revenge (2022), has rapidly made its way into the hearts of 90s chick-flick lovers and Netflix users alike, achieving a spot on Netflix’s top 10 list less than a month after its release on the platform. The film uses classic chick-flick elements to bring a new spin into the genre that reflects the experiences of teens living in the 21st century, but regardless of the quality of the plot, the movie is far from perfect.
The movie centers around two young women, Drea (Camila Mendes), and Eleanor (Maya Hawke), who go to the same prestigious high school and begin a friendship stemming from both of them wanting the other to get revenge on the perpetrators of their pain. In short, Drea wanted to get revenge on her “perfect” ex-boyfriend who leaked her sensitive content, and Eleanor needed revenge on her old middle-school bully who had spread rumours about her sexuality.
An element that gladly caught me off guard about the film is its ability to break the “type-casting” mold that Maya Hawke has found herself in after her role on Stranger Things as Robin Buckley. This is where she plays an energetic, quirky, lesbian teenager. In Do Revenge, Hawke is cast as Eleanor, a queer and clever teenager. Despite the similar character casting for Hawke, her character in Do Revenge is not reduced to her sexuality, or further, to the audience’s expectations of Hawke’s role as Robin being reenacted in a separate franchise.
Despite the gorgeous colour palette choices and stylistic direction overall, I have to admit that the costume design for the film was distracting, and at times, it didn’t match the plot. Although the movie is set at a wealthy private school, no one can convince me that any school uniforms can look as fabulously colourful as they do in Do Revenge, which ultimately distracts from the plot development.
Likewise, the costume design for Camila Mendes’ character, Drea, truly made no sense with her economic situation. Throughout the film we are reminded various times that Drea is not wealthy, and the only reason she studies where she does is because she is a scholarship student. According to the costume designer for Do Revenge, Alana Morsehead, the style choices for Drea were inspired by 90s supermodel style, perhaps reflected in the different luxury pieces that the character wore.
Since the character never seemed to repeat her outfits either, it was distracting as a viewer to think about how Drea would even be able to afford the designer clothes she wears. If anything, it would have been great to see the character access a similar wardrobe in a more realistic way which matches her economic situation.
In regards to the soundtrack, it was a great mixture between 90s music and contemporary music, but at times it missed the mark. Some examples of song choices that were great for the film include Celebrity Skin by Hole, So Hot You’re Hurting my Feelings by Caroline Polacheck, and Brutal by Olivia Rogrido. All of these songs are popular amongst teenagers now, while adding important context for the situations that transcurred in the movie.
In contrast, some other songs in the film seemed to be there for the sake of using music that is trendy on TikTok, such as Silk Chiffon (ft, Phoebe Bridgers) by MUNA, and Happier Than Ever by Billie Eillish. Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with either song, they were just a reminder in the movie that I was in fact, watching a film targeted for Gen Z. Because listening to some of the songs took me out of the experience of watching the movie itself to think about TikTok music, I can’t fully praise the decisions made for the soundtrack.
Lastly, the film does a great job of conveying how dangerous “soft boys” can truly be, in the very real sense that those men who pretend to be feminists are often just manipulative. In short, ”soft boys” are usually men who pretend to be emotionally intelligent, and who portray themselves as involved feminists, but they do so to be perceived a certain way.
In the film, Drea wants to take revenge on her “soft boy” ex, Max, who wears pearl necklaces and portrays himself as a feminist, while leaking Drea’s private videos and cheating on his new girlfriend. Since the movie openly decides to discuss how damaging it is for someone to portray himself in such a manipulative way, it opens doors for conversation and reflection on the dangers that fake feminists pose on women.
Do Revenge boldly takes inspiration from classic chick flicks from the ‘90s that we all love, to make something entirely new and that discusses the realities of being a teenager in the 2020s. Although some elements aren’t perfect, it is still a wholesome, worthwhile watch.