Vengeance Review: Novak’s Film Podcast Is Full of Great Ideas That Don’t Quite Match


B.J. Novak’s hat trick “Revenge” in the title role is a thoughtful and humorous film debut filled with the comedian’s caustic social commentary; however, like his protagonist, the narrative struggles to convey something truly memorable about life, death or the power of storytelling. Novak has a lot to say in “Revenge,” touching on everything from dating culture to predatory opportunism and the growing tension between the elitism of the east coast and the conservatism of the central part of the country. While the central premise of the film (searching for a “story” in a podcast about a murder investigation) gives the director a reason to move from one idea (and a crazy character) to another, by the end Novak is straining to weave everything together, which leads to some very tough exchanges that contradict the skillful methods of the film.

In “Revenge,” Novak plays New Yorker columnist Ben Manalowitz, an aimless New York bro who spends his days coming up with ideas for podcasts, and spends his evenings in bed for one night, which he callously anonymizes in his mobile phone contacts: for example, “Brunette Random House Party.” However, when Ben gets a call from Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook) and informs him that Ben’s girlfriend Abilene (aka “Abby Texas”, she is one of Ben’s friends, definitely not his girlfriend) recently passed away while visiting her hometown in West Texas, the novice narrator decides to go south to attend at Abilene’s funeral, but Ty convinces that Abby’s death was not an accident, but instead she was the victim of a murder. Considering Ty an ideal means by which to tell a story about American denial, as well as the country’s growing dependence on conspiracy theories to escape reality, Ben decides to stay in Texas and start working on a podcast that will use this “Dead White Girl”. and her family as a means to find their own voice.

B.J. Novak and Boyd Holbrook in “Revenge”

Novak is no stranger to social commentary, thanks to the merits of the screenwriter and producer Office, and “Retribution” is filled with smart ideas, insightful points of view and timely laughter. It’s a fascinating narrative that successfully interweaves with the cliches of podcasts about real crimes, and then subverts them, offering a funny and surprisingly accurate reflection on what makes murder stories so tempting. Abilene’s fate and the circumstances that led the Shaw family to believe Ben was Abby’s boyfriend struck a reasonable balance and gave a funny (but quite mundane) twist to expectations that would be appropriate in a true true crime. learning.

The film shines when Novak sits with the Shaw family and lives after their grief; however, when Ben goes outside and comes into contact with other people (and suspects) who were in Abilene’s orbit, Revenge begins to overlook the detailed family drama in favor of bizarre cartoons, intense monologues and predictable conflicts., which, with one exception, follow the traditional plot setup and payout patterns. In the role of Ben, Novak provides a well-realized performance (not to mention skillful directing). The actor does not exactly dissolve into the role, because Ben is a closed, arrogant and selfish person, whose role Novak glorified. However, Ben is a reliable pilot for the story, and Novak commits to the interaction scenario. He meets the moment – if only for the reason that he allows his colleagues in the film to shine.

Ashton Kutcher as Quinten Sellers in the movie “Revenge”

Fortunately, Novak is surrounded by a capable ensemble that the audience will definitely like. The writer-director takes care not to portray the Show’s family (and Texas in general) vile stereotypes, and instead tries to reveal the irony of life in the Lone Star state with the help of partial commentary and partial awe. This approach gives ample opportunities for prosperity, in particular, to the cast of the Show. In one scene that perfectly captures this balance, Abilene’s younger sisters, Kansas City (Dove Cameron) and Paris (Isabella Amara), complain about their hometown, but the girls lash out at Ben when he makes the mistake of joining them.

Boyd Holbrook absolutely excels in the role of Ty, giving the character a charm and naivety that creates an electric contrast to Ben. Ty is the engine of the film, dragging Ben down one rabbit hole after another, but his machinations never run out, and Holbrook creates a surprisingly sincere twist that in other hands could be more comedy and plot mechanics than good… a realized, albeit funny, person. Similarly, J. Smith-Cameron (The Heir) shines as Abilene’s mother, Sharon, and is responsible for a number of delicate scenes (emotions, grief, and anger) that go a long way to revealing what Novak is really trying to say in Revenge.


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