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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Sweet Revenge (aka The Revengers’ Comedies) (review)

Nutty aristocrat Karen Knightly (Helena Bonham Carter: Fight Club) takes revenge very seriously. Rescued from a suicide attempt gone awry by depressed businessman Henry Bell (Sam Neill: The Horse Whisperer) — both were in the process of jumping off London’s Tower Bridge — she quickly finagles him into a plot to retaliate against those who drove them to self-slaughter. Soon she has taken a secretarial job with the lizardy Bruce Tick (Steve Coogan), who stole Henry’s job, and Henry is reluctantly scheming to hurt Imogen Staxton-Billing (Kristin Scott Thomas: Up at the Villa), who lured away Karen’s lover, the man who just happens to be Imogen’s husband, Anthony (Martin Clunes: Shakespeare in Love). Call it Strangers on a Bridge… with a decidedly blackly comedic twist. Based on the plays of Alan Ayckbourn, this Showtime Original movie interweaves vengeance served up cold with a crotch full of kippers, adulterous liaisons in horse trailers, dowdy disguises, indoor motorcycle races, shotgun duels, and garish polyester clothing. From the bedlam that runs rampant at Karen’s country manor, where unflappable housekeeper Winnie (Liz Smith: A Christmas Carol) doesn’t bat an eye upon discovering a nearly nude man tied to a bed in the guest room, to the sublime retribution dished out, both willfully and unintentionally, to deserving souls, this is a delicious example of British humor that manages to be both over the top and understated at the same time. A must for fans of cheeky, topsy-turvy comedy.

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MPAA: rated TV14-V

viewed at home on a small screen

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