×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Revengers Tragedy

A Jacobean horror-comedy about family, love, revenge and the criminal aristocracy set in a war-torn English futureworld, "Revengers Tragedy" is an ambitious, sometimes exhilarating but ultimately not very new attempt to unleash the power of great literature past by punking it up.

With:
Vindici - Christopher Eccleston Lussurioso - Eddie Izzard The Duke - Derek Jacobi The Duchess - Diana Quick Castiza - Carla Henry Carlo - Andrew Schofield Lord Antonio - Antony Booth

A Jacobean horror-comedy about family, love, revenge and the criminal aristocracy set in a war-torn English futureworld, “Revengers Tragedy” is an ambitious, sometimes exhilarating but ultimately not very new attempt to unleash the power of great literature past by punking it up. With iconoclastic fervor, director Alex Cox (“Repo Man,” “Sid and Nancy”) and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce attack the 1607 play by Shakespeare’s young collaborator Thomas Middleton, designing a lawless and corrupt world around body-pierced villains in feather wigs, who recite the play’s quaint dialogue without batting a false eyelash. Although maliciously successful in drawing a parallel between the foulness of power then and now (references to Tony Blair’s Jubilee Britain are not accidental), the film pays more attention to displaying its inventiveness than to emotionally involving viewers in the characters’ torments. This lack of empathy, along with pic’s hard-to-follow English, is the limit that distribs will face in rustling up auds for a film that otherwise can bank on some youth appeal.

A bus full of dead passengers weaves down a grimy Liverpool street patrolled by gangs of punk-grunge “Cockneys,” setting an apocalyptic scene for the return of anti-hero Vindici (a wild-eyed, intense Christopher Eccleston, star of Cox’s 1992 “Death and the Compass”). In his secret lair, he talks to the skull of his dead love Gloriana, who was poisoned on their wedding day for refusing her favors to the all-powerful Duke (Derek Jacobi). Half-mad with grief and murderous rage, Vindici has come back to seek sweet vengeance.

With the help of his brother Carlo (Andrew Schofield as a working-class courtier, sporting a more sedate look than his Johnny Rotten role in “Sid and Nancy”), he gets close to the Duke’s eldest son Lussorioso (standup comic/actor Eddie Izzard). This decadent fellow plans on seducing and abandoning Vindici’s virtuous sister Castiza (Carla Henry), but Vindici is relieved to find her unbendable. Not so their blind mother (Margi Clarke), who wouldn’t mind selling the girl. This family squabble over honor will later be settled with Carlo attending.

Meanwhile, mayhem piles up like reeking garbage around the court. Lord Antonio’s (Antony Booth) lovely wife (model Sophie Dahl) commits suicide or is murdered after a court of law fails to indict the Duke’s youngest son for raping her. Another offspring is caught in lascivious embraces with his mother the Duchess (Diana Quick). The middle three sons form a demented glam-rock clique who offer some comic relief even as they scheme for the throne.

In a practically silent part, Jacobi makes the scarlet-lipped Duke as vile to look upon as a Medusa head. Though a striking model of evil, his hideous death while being tortured by Vindici’s gloating family casts moral doubt on the vendetta, particularly futile as no worthy successor is waiting in the wings.

Taking the opposite tack to the minimalist oppression of Derek Jarman’s retold “Edward II,” production designer Cecilia Montiel revels in streets littered with wrecks and over-decorated palaces, a complement to Monica Aslanian’s gaudy peacock costumes. In the same eclectic vein, Len Gowing’s lensing adds to pic’s very distinctive look.

Popular on Variety

Revengers Tragedy

U.K.

Production: A Bard Entertainment/Exterminating Angel Prods. production. (International sales: Pathe Intl., London.) Produced by Margaret Matheson, Tod Davies. Directed by Alex Cox. Screenplay, Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on the play by Thomas Middleton.

Crew: Camera (color), Len Gowing; editor, Ray Fowlis; production designer, Cecilia Montiel; costume designer, Monica Aslanian; sound (Dolby Digital), Gary Desmond; casting, Gary Davy. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), (Also in Edinburgh Film Festival.) Aug. 5, 2002. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: Vindici - Christopher Eccleston Lussurioso - Eddie Izzard The Duke - Derek Jacobi The Duchess - Diana Quick Castiza - Carla Henry Carlo - Andrew Schofield Lord Antonio - Antony BoothWith: Margi Clarke, Paul Reynolds, Justin Salinger, Marc Warren, Sophie Dahl.

More Film

  • Nicolas Cage Hainan International Film Festival

    China's Hainan Film Festival Launches Golden Coconut Competition

    The deep-pocketed, government-run Hainan Island International Film Festival has launched a new competition section for its second iteration, set to take place from December 1-8. This year, ten ‘Golden Coconut Awards’ will be given out across three categories of films: feature-length, feature documentaries, and fictional shorts. Prizes will be presented for best picture, best director, [...]

  • Panda

    France's Troisième Œil Teams With China's CICC on Richard Dale's 'Panda Kingdom' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Troisième Œil Productions is teaming with Chinese partners to make its first international co-production with the premium documentary “Panda Kingdom,” and has brought BAFTA-winning director Richard Dale on board to helm it. The outfits China Aviation Pictures and CICC are co-producing the documentary with Troisième Œil Productions. The docu feature will explore the captive breeding [...]

  • Andhadhun receives AACTA nomination

    Indian and Chinese Titles Dominate AACTA Asian Award Nominations

    Three Indian and three mainland Chinese films are among the nine feature movies shortlisted for the Best Asian Film Award by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. The Indian selections are box office hit “Andhadhun,” “Super Deluxe, and “Gully Boy,” which premiered in February at the Berlin festival. The Chinese trio includes “Shadow,” [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Film News Roundup: 'The Two Popes' Wins Audience Award at Miami Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Two Popes” wins an audience award, “A Night with Janis Joplin” and “Fittest in Dubai” get releases, Artists First reorganizes, SAG-AFTRA expands its headquarters and Film Fest 919 announces its winners. AUDIENCE AWARD Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes” has won the audience award at the Miami Gems Film Festival. [...]

  • Scotty Bowers

    Scotty Bowers, Old Hollywood's Sexual Matchmaker, Dies at 96

    Scotty Bowers, a “sexual matchmaker” for dozens of stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood who wrote about his colorful — and sometimes unbelivable — life in his memoir “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars,” died at his Laurel Canyon home on Sunday. He was 96. The [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Introducing On-Demand Movie Service

    AMC Entertainment will introduce an online video store in the United States on Tuesday. Adam Aron, AMC’s president and chief executive, said that the AMC Theaters On Demand will offer about 2,000 films for sale or rent after their theatrical runs — much like Amazon or iTunes. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount have [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content