"Time of Retribution" is released is a crime drama starring Nicole Kidman about a federal agent who is trying to find ends in a 17-year-old case and punish those responsible for her current plight. Nicole Kidman played a really unusual role for her, completely transformed for the film into a mature woman who lost her last hope. And the director was Karin Kusama - the director of the excellent genre "Invitations" and "Jennifer's Bodies". Let's figure out why Time of Retribution is an unusual movie about revenge and empowerment that breaks the usual rules of the genre.
ATTENTION: the text contains spoilers.
TEXT: Alisa Taezhnaya, author of the telegram channel "See once"
Tired, crumpled, dry skin and expressionless eyes, Erin Bell dozes in a car in Los Angeles and waddles down the street, barely moving her legs. She is a federal agent on a bad account: sarcastic colleagues snort condescendingly when they see her silhouette on the horizon, sympathizers advise to sober up and sleep it off. This decline in Erin's life began a long time ago, and those around her are used to seeing her live with her last bit of strength. The former boss even condescendingly advises a free group with Bible readings: when there is no other hope, it may be time to turn to God. No one is attached to her, and most likely, no one will regret her death - a loner as she is. Erin was not always like this: in the past, she, young and energetic, was sent on a dangerous mission that crippled her very, very much - and the audience will be looking at the causes of the main character's injury throughout the film.
As a very young girl, Erin was introduced into a Californian gang that traded in bank robberies. In a group of several people, led by leader Silos, Erin was not the only FBI agent - the second agent Chris is also on assignment, but Erin is fascinated by him and agrees to an alternative plan: to thwart the robbery of the group not for the sake of the FBI, but for their own sake. He does not yet know what Erin wears under the heart of his child, and he certainly does not expect that this operation will not go according to the script, and his beloved woman is, in fact, the same “bad cop” about whose hypocrisy so many genre films are shot.
It is no coincidence that a freckled brown-haired woman with playing blue eyes has turned into a dried-up ghost, and flashbacks will explain not only the dramatic transformation of Erin Bell, but also dispel mass stereotypes about a dangerous and exciting life at the forefront of criminal gangs. Racket, murders and escapes are not an attraction, but the last thing for the most unpretentious.
Seventeen years later, Erin wanders through the places of former glory, looking for the surviving accomplices of that very robbery. Most of them are 50-year-old fringes who live not at all romantic lives: Bonnie and Clyde were not accidentally shot young. Bedridden, working on parcels, dealing with small bribes, lying low, looking like a third-rate bandit from the crowd scene in Scorsese's movie - criminals who changed their sixties look like beaten dogs, like Erin herself, lost in a world for which she is not ready … Former accomplices mirrored each other in gait, glances and gestures - they can easily be imagined as inhabitants of Redneck vans scattered across the desert, and certainly not as adventurers in search of fresh sensations. Moving from person to person, Erin keeps in her head the leader - Silas, the cause of death of her loved one. But at the same time, she is trying to save the insolent 16-year-old daughter Shelby from a marginal fate, for whose sake Erin is ready to scatter strangers in bars, steal money and internally repent for everything she has done - or rather, for her own stupidity not to do a dirty business the way she was going …
Overcoming the canons of "beautiful revenge"
The most important property of "Time of Vengeance" is that the film completely violates the usual genre rules for displaying revenge.Are we going to keep in mind South Korean action films, outstanding category B movies (for example, "Miss 45 Caliber" or "Conan the Barbarian") or postmodern imitations of him (primarily the films of Quentin Tarantino "Death Proof" and "Django Unchained "), We will not find in Kusama's film a single aesthetic hint of a bloody, spectacular massacre. Moving from small bipods to the leader of the gang, just like in "Kill Bill", Erin Bell will not receive satisfaction from either outstanding fights with blood and tricks, or from a bright verbal duel with catchphrases from legendary action movies. What Erin does is a viscous, agonizing unpleasant revenge tied to loneliness and terrible self-esteem. Revenge works as a pivot for Kidman's heroine, but it is not a pivot that holds together a strong and cohesive character. Her retaliation is not sexualized (as in the recent film The Survivor by Coralie Farzhea or the duo of Katte and Forzani), does not borrow an aesthetic of exploitation, and does not choose blood red as the main color of the story.
Erin Bell's revenge is made of sand and dust: the heroine looks at the world with lost hope, faded blue eyes with blood in proteins and uses cheap weapons of poor quality. Erin's “victims” also do not die with their heads held high: they are shot in the legs in unfortunate places and thrown in tainted apartments, they are fired in the back on the side of the road, they even masturbate on the deathbed upon request and beat off their kidneys in front of underage children. Revenge in Time of Vengeance is not a dish served cold, but a dish served dirty.
Exposing "dangerous" behavior
Criminal lovers - the most important trope of action cinema - also undergoes deconstruction in Kusama. Criminals from the films of Rodriguez, Lynch, Guy Ritchie and Tony Scott, charming and grasping loafers without fear or reproach - not from Erin's entourage. The FBI agent is being introduced not into a group of charismatics with a cunning plan, but into a bunch of thugs, in whose life strategy there are no principles and clearly defined choices. They drink cheap beer in roadside bars and talk like bums - and even the most cunning and brave of them, in adulthood, look like an unlucky pimp, not a prudent mastermind. Erin's gang are not born killers, but middle-class criminals who have followed the path of least resistance, their fearlessness lacks even courage - that's really who really justifies the name "inglorious bastards", and the scale of their actions is appropriate.
Deconstruction of the heroic
The principal moment for "Time of Vengeance" is the presentation of Erin Bell as an antihero without tragic flair and destructive principles. Like those in whose circle she was introduced, Erin is not a planning supermachine and not an action heroine in the classical sense. The main characters of "The Brave" and "Sympathy for Lady Revenge": their gaze, dexterity, speed and even the choice of weapons. Supernatural abilities of Carrie or diabolical competition in "Jennifer's Body", the wholeness of a very young heroine "Lollipop" or the rigid principles of Lisbeth Salander. None of this is in the crushed, tired and living with the last of her strength Erin Bell. The only phenomenon of life that causes her indifference is a daughter, on whom she has no influence and who does not appreciate her at all. Erin Bell is mediocre for both good and bad cop and shimmers with a pale reflection of herself 17 years ago - a time when youth still masked despair, a global lack of motivation and belief in purpose.
Empowerment and gender roles
Of particular interest in "Time of Vengeance" is the treatment of the scriptwriters and director with the gender of the main character. Despite the fact that Erin Bell's motivations are dictated by grief over lost romantic love and increased maternal instinct, in her place it is easy to imagine a desperate man in the same leather jacket and disheveled hair.For this role, Nicole Kidman rejected the royal Hollywood image with the same determination with which Charlize Theron gave up her usual image for the role in "Monster". This transformation into a heroine who lost the idea of "femininity" not only gave Kidman an Oscar nomination: the non-sexualized female image in the crime genre as a whole is a huge rarity and a find in Kusama's film.
At no stage of the plot does Erin Bell play a typical female role in a criminal plot: neither as a femme fatale, nor as a girlfriend of the protagonist, nor as someone's patient wife. She clearly fulfills functions in the hierarchy - be it the FBI or the gang - and becomes vulnerable in those scenes of the film that remind her of the once lost female image: when she masturbates an ex-accomplice or encounters the sexuality of an underage daughter. This certainly makes Bell very similar to many of the real-life criminals of the twentieth century (from members of the Red Brigades to serial killers), whose behavior and presentation of themselves were as different as possible from the comfortable age-old ideas about the eros-emitting maidens of pop culture. Those, unlike Erin Bell, always had tight clothes in their wardrobes and time for careful styling and makeup during collective raids, robberies, torture and murder. "Time of Retribution" - a film about many years of life a step away from an inglorious death - does not look for differences between women and men in a stupid criminal game.