It’s hard to imagine, but before Thor: Love and Thunder, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson first made a name for herself with the MTV series, Sweet/Vicious. The short-lived series was critically acclaimed and focused on two girls named Jules and Ophelia who set out as wannabe vigilantes to make abusers on their college campus pay for what they’ve done. Robinson would then go on to direct a romantic comedy titled Somebody Great for Netflix which saw the film’s leading lady seek one last adventure with her best friends as she struggles to deal with a breakup. All of these projects have one central theme at hand: female friendships. It’s one of Robinson’s strongest abilities as a writer – it’s something that we even get to see in Love and Thunder with Jane and Valkyrie. However, Do Revenge might just be Robinson’s best effort yet.
If one were to judge Do Revenge simply by the film’s trailer, they’d more than likely bill it as yet another teenage drama. But that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s so much more than that. The film centers on Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke), two students who seemingly have nothing in common but will soon find they’re all they have. Simple concept, right? Sure, but what Robinson manages to do with said concept is impressive. Drea is an IT girl – she’s dating the most popular guy at school, she has three friends who follow her every command and she’s on track to get into Yale. Unfortunately, just as things seem to be going perfectly for Drea, everything seemingly falls apart. Enter Eleanor. She’s the complete opposite of Drea. After a traumatic event, she struggles to fit in and make friends and she’s eager to try to move beyond her past. At least, until she meets Drea.
As the title would suggest, both girls are on a mission for revenge in the film. This is where Do Revenge begins to pull from Robinson’s work on both Sweet/Vicious and Someone Great. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, and yet, Do Revenge is a movie full of thrilling surprises. This isn’t just another teen movie. It’s about friendship, identity and growth. There are some serious issues addressed in Do Revenge, and while admittedly handled with a lighter tone than perhaps required, Robinson and Celeste Ballard (Sweet/Vicious) don’t shy away from the screwed-up way society responds to such screwed-up scenarios in the end.
Mendes and Hawke are fantastic in Do Revenge. They have such good chemistry on screen that it helps sell the relationship with ease. For those only familiar with Mendes from Riverdale, Do Revenge is proof that she’s capable of more than the CW series has shown her to be capable of doing. She’s great in the film overall, but she truly shines when it comes to the emotional moments. While Hawke steals the show from the moment she arrives on screen. Much like her father, the young actress has a magnetic presence on screen, and she slips into the role of Eleanor with skill. Of all the characters featured in the movie, it is Hawke’s Eleanor that goes on the most rewarding journey and it’s hard to imagine another young actress that could’ve successfully tackled the role as well as Hawke. She’s fantastic.
That isn’t to say the film isn’t without its faults. While a fun watch, sometimes, Do Revenge fails to properly handle the traumatic storylines it introduces. When the tone should be more serious, Do Revenge takes a more comedic approach. Thankfully, by the movie’s end, the film does get itself back on the right path, but those bumps in the third act? They are quite uncomfortable and hard to ignore while experiencing them.
Overall, Do Revenge is a good story about female friendships and the many issues women face in society. It’s campy at times, but in those moments when the film is sure of itself and its characters? It shines brightly. Revenge might not always be the answer, but in this case, it is best to Do Revenge.