Director Riffs About His Quirky Redemption Tale, “Revanche,” A Winner At 2008 Telluride Film Fest

Hollywood regularly spits out films featuring the kvetching narcissistic alpha males who rule Tinsel Town. “Revanche” is an indie flick whose star, Johannes Krisch, is a virtual unknown in the U.S. The talented actor is, however, a big stage star at home in Austria, which his countryman, writer/director Götz Spielmann, described as a “more of a theatre place than a movie place.”

Spielmann spoke Monday morning, September 3, at the Sheridan Opera House. He was in town all weekend for the screening of “Revanche" at the 35th annual Telluride Film Festival.

When we first meet Krisch’s character, an ex-con named Alex, we see him as a very horny, but otherwise unsympathetic tough guy loser, getting by working in a seedy brothel. “Revanche,” however, is a tale of redemption: what you see is not what you get in the end.

The only cliché in Spielmann’s nuanced meditation on modern loneliness, disillusionment, disconnection, shattered dreams, and stark pragmatism is the contrast at the beginning of the movie between city and country life: city bad, country good. Otherwise black and white stereotypes dissolve quickly into shades of gray.

In “Revanche,” truth trumps fiction.

The Film Festival’s editor extraordinaire, Jason Silverman, introduced the screening and led the Q & A that followed.

“‘Revanche,” said Jason, “is a miracle of a film in which we watch real life unfolding organically.”

Spielmann apologized for his English before enchanting the audience with stories about the making of his future classic.“I encourage my actors to rehearse two weeks before the shoot to get free of the lines,” he explained. “I also suggest they research the milieu in which they will be moving as actors. My Tamara (Irina Potapenko) lived in a brothel for five days. Although she did not work, even the clients thought she was a prostitute. My policeman Robert (Andreas Lust) told me that being a cop was all about drinking coffee and occasionally arresting someone for driving too fast and that he was mostly bored to death.

The research is to help my actors get out of their heads.”

Though “Revanche” is definitely not a yuckfest there are many funny moments. “When you really believe in life as I do, it gets funny again,” said Spielmann.

Speilmann said that when he wrote “Revanche,” when he writes any script for that matter, he intends nothing. “When I write, I get rid of consciousness. I want to be inspired, not controlled.”

He also does not judge his characters and avoids manipulating his audience with camera tricks and music. “I love music. But think it is the queen of arts, not a servant. That is why ‘Revanche’ has no score.”

The last scene of “Revanche” is open-ended: “The scene points to the future, because life does not close when the camera is turned off.”

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