"He Who Seeks Revenge Should Dig Two Graves" Alex Cox's new film is a scathing black comedy about love, sex, family, murder, incest and revenge, set in a post-apocalyptic Liverpool. After ten years in hiding, Vindici (C... more »hristopher Eccleston-28 Days Later, The Others) returns to destroy the Duke (Derek Jacobi-Gosford Park, Gladiator) who murdered Vindici's wife on their wedding day. During his absence Vindici's family fell into poverty, while the Duke, Duchess and their decadent sons acquired wealth and power, ruling over their court obsessed with transient beauty, money, inherited privilege and power. Determined to exact his revenge, Vindici sets out to gain the confidence of the Duke and his villainous heir, Lussurioso (Eddie Izzard-Dressed To Kill, Circle). Featuring brilliant performances by Eccleston, Izzard, and Jacobi, Revengers Tragedy proves once again that Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy) is one of the few truly subversive filmmakers at work today. Somewhere between A Clockwork Orange and Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet, this updated telling of Thomas Middleton's notorious 17th century play is an energetic and stylish masterwork.« less
"Another great postmodern version of a Renaissance play by director Alex Cox. THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY is comparable to Julie Taymor's TITUS (Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus) or Derek Jarman's EDWARD II (the Marlowe play). The dialogue is based on the original language of Thomas Middleton's play, but the setting and action are futuristic. The movie is actually pretty faithful to an extremely bizarre play, which includes incest, necrophilia, murder, poison, and you name it. Apparently the 21st century has nothing on the late Renaissance when it comes to decadence. Christopher Eccleston gives a great performance as Vindici, the revenger character. There are a couple of scenes of lovemaking which don't technically include "nudity." There is also some violence, but what makes the play so shocking is the decadence of the characters and setting. Very darkly humorous and satirical."
"Whose fault is this catastrophe?" - Derek Jacobi (the Duke)
Chao Chih-Hao | Miami, FL USA | 07/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alex Cox's ninth full-length feature is arguably his finest work since Highway Patrolman and the great Walker. This could largely be credited in the respect of the material being more personal to the director. His passion for the Jacobean play and for Spaghetti Westerns both shine brightly in this picture. And as can be guaranteed on each of this greatly-underappreciated artist's films, his style and wicked satirical humor are in full force here - in the Revengers Tragedy. This simple, and yet nasty tale of revenge written by a contemporary of William Shakespeare's with themes of love, sex, family, political decadence, and incest, and splendid dialogue from the original play by author Thomas Middleton and screen adapter Frank Cottrell Boyce features extraordinary performances, especially by Eddie Izzard, Christopher Eccleston, Andrew Schofield (Johnny Rotten in Cox's Sid and Nancy), and the immortal Derek Jacobi. Cox, himself, plays a small role as the Duke's driver, sporting a great haircut.
Ambitioso (Justin Salinger): "There's no advantage in the killing of a younger brother!"
Alex's eccentric approach to storytelling is usually bound to throw off newcomers to his work, or casual movie-watchers whom are accustomed to a more typical and financially refined (by Hollywood standards) picture. Also, and largely, Alex's sarcasm tends to get misunderstood despite its value in intelligence and sometimes beauty, which is strong in this picture, partially because of the material, as it was in Walker - a film which went so unappreciated and so disliked that Cox was shunned by the Hollywood studios thereafter. Ironically, that film remains his towering masterpiece. So for those interested in the Revengers Tragedy I would recommend to watch the picture at least twice before you make up your mind on its merits. Actually, having seen it four times thus far, and having heard the commentary and watched the fantastic extra features supplied by Fantoma I have grown fonder of the film. And I had thoroughly enjoyed it upon my initial viewing of it, late last year. The score by Chumbawamba is terrific.
"Farewell to all... He that climbs highest has the greatest fall. My tongue is out of office.""
Weird, fascinating, enjoyable
Clark B. Timmins | West Jordan, UT USA | 01/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film and had to get my own copy. It's a strange, fabulous, weird, and amazing picture. The film is a fusion of a really old script, modern texture, and futuristic noir grit. It's very difficult to place, nearly impossible to handle, and quite demanding. I feel like it only comes together after several viewings, though the first time through is shocking and enjoyable. The more I watch it the more I like it.
The dialogue is fiercely original--written in an archaic and fantastic style, delivered in a colorful way, filmed to perfection. It's amazing. The accents and words are so interesting and (to me) strange that it frequently helps to have the sub-titles on through the first couple viewings. Imagery is outstanding, camera work is great, and casting is dead on.
The soundtrack is awesome, too, and complements the film's entire sociopolitical backdrop so well the audio and visual become inseparably wed. Tremendously successful, eminently enjoyable, and highly recommended."
Captivated & Enthralled
Sashamellow | Gainesville, FL | 04/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While most films adaptations never seem to do justice to Jacobean drama (or any literature for that matter), "The Revenger's Tragedy" revitalizes an already great play by Middleton. Though the screenplay differs from the original substantially, the director captures the essence of the play in a way that makes good use of the media of film. And though, I usually do not like films that change so much of the original, here it works--and it works really fascinatingly.
The score is great. The visual choices are great. And the acting ensemble is particularly great--Christopher Eccleston as Vindice really blew me away.
The film lends itself to great discussion, and usage of the ol' gray matter.
I actually can't think of anything bad to say (I'm buying the DVD, so maybe after a few more viewings I'll find something)."
Alex Cox treats his audience like intelligent people - refre
libbylou | NY | 02/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Artistically, this is a very interesting presentation of the story. By setting it in modern pronunciation (AKA Liverpool accents), the director forces us to understand how closely it resembles our own world; he even mentions in the extras how fitting it was that during the filming the US and Britain entered an actual war of revenge - unfortunately this world is politically strife with revenge and it makes the film that much more topical when he hands it to us in a setting full of factory-lined alleyways, chain link fences, corrugated metal and modern contraptions to allegorically dig in the point.
The actors were absolutely perfect for their roles, every one of them (though i must confess to have a particular weakness for Derek Jacobi and Eddie Izzard - they're just both so interesting in their own right) and unlike Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo, they actually seem to know what they are saying. The manner of speaking incorporates both old style prose and modern day curses and slang, which only seems to further anchor it to the set and make the collaboration of 17th century play and modern day trappings seem all the more natural - kind of a cute way of talking too. The language is very powerful, definitely gets it's point across.
There is makeup on men (as one should expect when reading Eddie Izzard on the playbill), but rather than being a contagion that spread to the other actors I do see this makeup as an artistic advantage. Besides tying the movie to it's stage roots (where all men wear makeup), the makeup visually divulges the excess that these rich men were treating themselves to, and also outlines their vanity very well indeed.
I also found fascinating the movies' proposition that different leadership would simply find different reasons to be corrupt. I am very glad that they left in the scene with the confrontation of the mother. She had toyed with the idea of selling her daughter's favors for the goodwill of the duke. Not only did the confrontation scene provide continuity by tying up this loose end, but it also lets the audience know how fine a line we all walk - how easy it is for vengeance to go too far and for one to become no better than their enemy.
This is the best adaptation of an out-of-date play to the screen that I have seen yet. While I do enjoy old plays, it is very hard to relate to them. The licenses that Alex Cox has taken are illuminating and keep you on your toes. "