When the title is translated from its origin language, Klersti Steinsbø’s Norwegian/Canadian co-production Hevn appears too on the nose – it’s a story of revenge called Revenge.
Hevn is actually quite suspenseful. The tension begins immediately when a stoic woman (Rebekka played by Lillehammer’s Siren Jørgensen) arrives to a cozy town and meets a married couple (Morten and Nina played by Frode Winther and Maria Bock) who run the local hotel – they all grow very fond of each other. Rebekka picks up on how quaint the community is through its hunky-dory lifestyles and friendly townsfolk (including bartender Bimbo played by Kon-Tiki’s Anders Baasmo Christiansen).
When Rebekka asks others about Morten, shunned recluse Maya (Helene Bergsholm) isn’t afraid to tell the truth about their history. More clues are revealed about the seemingly courteous manager, which provides Rebekka more dirt to fuel her hidden agenda.
While Hevn is well acted against gorgeous scenery (courtesy of cinematographer Anna Myking who also shot last year’s foreboding doc Drone), the film could’ve used more subtlety in its storytelling. The beginning stages of Hevn are filled with characters who are too gullible no matter how innocent their good intentions are towards newcomer Rebekka. When the story receives more weight and depth from the skeletons in Morten’s closet, the film finds its footing with more sensible reactions.
Rebekka is out for revenge (remember that title), but Klersti Steinsbø ‘s screenplay always questions where the line is drawn for the sneaky heroine. In fact, is she the heroine if she purposely plays into Morten’s predatory past? Or, is Morten – torn with his own actions – still the enemy based on all the disturbing harm he’s caused others and his urge to continue? By the end of Hevn, these questions are left for interpretation thanks to skillful, unbiased filmmaking by Steinsbø, and audiences can still determine their own blunt, opinionated conclusions.
Those same audiences may be able to tell where most of the story is headed up until those final moments, but Hevn will still make them squirm from the pressure.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie