A young woman named Rebekka travels to a remote hotel in Norway, owned by Morten Holand, after the death of her sister Maya. Her intent is to confront and kill Morten because of a horrible past transgression he committed against her sister that likely led to her untimely death by her own hand.
She takes a different tack from her initial rash and impulsive decision to murder him in cold blood with a butcher’s knife only after she discover he’s married and her plan would be difficult to carry out. Instead she assumes the identity of Andrea, a freelance travel writer working for a prestigious travel magazine that has a keen interest in publishing a story about Morten’s rather secluded hotel.
She accepts an invite to stay at the hotel while she “writes her article”, all the while ingraining herself deeper in the couple’s life. Rebekka puts a new plan into action to exact her revenge, but as her game-plan plays further out it begins to falter. Rebekka is now pushed into a position where she must cop to her actions and also make a decision as to how she will exact her revenge on Morten.
Kjersti Steinsbø directed Hevn (Revenge) based on a script she adapted from Ingvar Ambjørnsen’s novel, Dukken i taket (Doll in the Ceiling). What she creates with this film is not so much a slow burn, but rather a simmer. But that’s not a bad thing, as it allows the viewer the opportunity to ponder what direction Rebekka’s revenge plot will ultimately take. Also, having too many occurrences that would connect back to her seeking revenge throughout would have been far too suspicious given Rebekka’s unexpected arrival on the scene, and could well have ground the plot quickly to a halt. “Hey, all this strange shit has been happening since that travel writer chick got here, it must be her doing.” Catch my drift? Best if the suspicion can be cast in alternate directions.
Revenge is being sought by Rebekka after her sister’s tragic death by suicide after years of torment, having been sexual assaulted years earlier by Morten when he was 19 and her sister only 13. I appreciate the fact that the film does not become too exploitative and feature a depiction of the despicable act, despite it being the catalyst for Rebekka’s revenge plot. The story could still have used a bit of exposition and development at the beginning to provide viewers with a little direction. Ultimately it didn’t hurt the progression of the story, but that isn’t always the case. The ending doesn’t deliver any absolute certainty as to the consequences Morten face, although we are left certain that there will be some punishment handed down. Of course it can be somewhat cathartic if a viewer can make their own assertio as to what will ultimately happen.
The cast, as a whole, gives good, genuine performances. The characters aren’t extraordinary, they’re just real every day people who just happen to be caught up in this unraveling drama. Siren Jørgensen is a striking beauty, whose portrayal of Rebekka is subtle while still giving that feeling that something is turning behind her cool facade. Frode Winther lends the character of Morten a subdued air of entitlement and arrogance, that suggests he hasn’t had to earn what he has in life. As Morten’s wife Nina, Maria Bock creates a sweet and likeable character who sadly is naive and blind to any of Morten’s faults because of his charm. Anders Baasmo Christiansen also gives a good turn as Bimbo, the local pub owner and Morten’s lifelong friend.
This film has a good clean look to it and was well shot by cinematographer Anna Myking, and also well edited by Jon Endre Mørk. The locations of Fjærland and Øvre Årdal in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway featured in the film were absolutely breathtaking. The fjords ad sprawling forest land helped to create a feeling of being somewhat disconnected from the rest of the world.
In the end, there is nothing scary or overtly thrilling about this film., but frankly it didn’t have to be in order to still be a well told story. It keeps from making a tacky spectacle of rape and sexual assault while still utilizing it as a reason for our main character to seek revenge. The mere notion of such an act is horrific enough without having to see it depicted on screen. The ending definitely does leave Morten’s fate in question. What price should such a man pay for robbing a girl of her soul, fracturing her psyche and destroying her life. With emotion being a huge contributing factor to such a decision, I’m sure I don’t truly know. Perhaps the writer felt the same way leaving the ending so ambiguous. 6.5 / 10