Vengeance (2022)

Directed and Written by BJ Novak

BJ Novak, Boyd Holbrook, Lio Tipton, Ashton Kutcher, Isabella Amara, Dove Cameron, J Smith-Cameron, Eli Bickel, Issa Rae.

Ben (Novak) is a writer for the New Yorker, he desperately wants to start a podcast, but is having trouble selling a good idea to his friend, and podcast extraordinaire Eloise (Rae).

He is also a serial dater, going from one conquest to another and never having more than a handful of dates. When he is contacted by Ty (Holbrook), the brother Abilene (Tipton), has sadly died and he is invited to the funeral in rural Texas. She was one of his many conquests, but her family think that he is her boyfriend. He reluctantly goes, and soon discovers she may have been murdered. Seeing this as an opportunity to help find the killer, he starts a podcast about her life.

A brilliantly written screenplay – is fast paced and very mature. It also plays as a mini ‘whodunit’ (even though ‘who did it’ is easy to pick). With a couple of twists thrown in for good measure. It is also due to the characters being so likeable, you don’t really want any of them to have been responsible.

A critisim is that it is very American – and the whole point of Ben’s podcast is about America’s reaction to revenge and vengeance. While this could be a universal feeling, the entire movie’s central identity is that of this concept. There are secondary concepts that the film explores, and that is the ‘narrative’ that Texan’s have a low intelligence, but throughout the film characters within the family are incredibly intelligent in their own way.

The growth that Ben takes is also incredibly moving, especially the friendship he starts with the members of Abilene’s family.

A couple more downs, is the final 10 minutes or so. It became incredibly political, and once again ‘Americanised’ here, and I was not a big fan of how the climax was handled. I also found Novak to be a little too old now to play such a character. He is now 43, and this is a role that he should have done at the start of his The Office tenure.

Ultimately I don’t think this is a movie I would watch again. It is fine, and I respect what was trying to be done – I just don’t think it was universal enough for non American audiences.


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