The teen drama we didn't know we needed
By Emma Chen
The number one reason why I started Do Revenge was to see Maya Hawke act like a spoiled teen girl dressed in pastel purple and turquoise, after having appreciated her Jo March (Little Women) and Robin Buckley (Stranger Things), characters who tend to escape traditional feminine roles and outfits. However, I kept watching for the plot twists and the comedy, and when the film ended, I was surprisingly delighted.
Do Revenge (2022) is a dark comedy teen drama that sees the main characters Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke), two teenage girls who come from different backgrounds but find themselves involved in the same high school melodrama. Drea is the popular pretty girl who dreams of Yale and has the hot boyfriend everyone wants. But her career perspectives and social life crumble when the above-mentioned boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams) leaks an intimate video of her, and as a cherry on top, begins dating her best friend. Drea meets Eleanor at tennis camp and finds out that her life was also ruined by a girl, Carissa, who spread the rumour that Eleanor tried to kiss her forcibly. As you expect, Drea and Eleanor decide to be each other’s revenge woman and punish Max and Carissa. But not everything goes as planned, and, through a few plot twists, we’ll discover that their alliance is not as casual as it seems.
The film was released a month ago, and since then, I have heard multiple comments saying that it is dull, treats heavy topics such as revenge porn and bullying in a wrong way, and that the moral of the story is absent. While I understand where these comments come from—especially since the film is aimed at a younger demographic that could misinterpret the gravity of some situations—I disagree with them. Do Revenge is a teen drama: it’s meant to be funny and camp and a bit surreal. There is an implied agreement that none of the happenings in the film must be taken seriously, otherwise all teen dramas would be considered stupid or offensive. The critique of modern society and patriarchy is subtle—Max creates a student society called ‘CIS Hetero Men Championing Female Identification Students League’ to make up for Drea’s leaked video—and it fits the theme, but don’t expect a feminist manifesto, there are other films for that.
The colours, the vibes, and the storyline are a clear tribute to all the teen dramas from the 90s onward, from Clueless and their plaid skirts to Mean Girls and the rigid school hierarchy. And the director Jennifer Robison recognises it and doesn’t try to hide it; instead, she focuses on modernising themes and aesthetics, succeeding with the help of songs such as ‘Brutal’ by Olivia Rodrigo.
Despite the dark aspects of the plot, Do Revenge doesn’t take itself too seriously, becoming a perfectly enjoyable product for a movie night with friends. The cast’s acting is equally as enjoyable and light: they don’t force a depth on the characters that is not supposed to be there. Honourable mention to Mendes’ performance, the fact that she can say lines from Riverdale without laughing already makes her a good actress, and in Do Revenge, her expressions and comedy timing confirm that.