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‘Do Revenge’ is the messy teen comedy I didn’t know I needed

Camila Mendes, seen here in 2019, stars opposite Maya Hawke in Netflix's newest comedy, "Do Revenge."
Camila Mendes, seen here in 2019, stars opposite Maya Hawke in Netflix's newest comedy, "Do Revenge."

Netflix’s new movie “Do Revenge” was not a good movie. I loved it anyway.

“Do Revenge,” starring Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke, can best be described as camp. Between its pastel prep school uniforms and ridiculous plots for revenge involving makeovers, mushrooms and basically everything but murder, it’s completely ridiculous.

In terms of romantic arcs, “Do Revenge” offers many — however, they aren’t quite what I expected going into the movie.

To be fully transparent, I pulled up the movie on my laptop over the weekend after seeing a clip on YouTube of Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke flirting during press for the movie. They have good chemistry together, and everything I had seen about the movie previously had marketed it as a sapphic rom-com with a teen drama twist.

That was all the convincing I needed, and the movie sets up Eleanor (Hawke) and Drea (Mendes) to be a swoon-worthy leading couple, even including a meet-cute where Eleanor fixes Drea’s car.

Needless to say, I was surprised when the entire movie sets them up to be twisted soulmates (with Drea literally saying she thinks of Eleanor as such) and yet never getting together. Even the end credit scenes show them apologizing to their separate love interests for the ways they messed up their relationships while hell-bent on enacting revenge on their enemies.

Somehow, Netflix managed to come up with a heterosexual explanation for a montage of cute moments between the main characters, including a final scene where they sit together on the beach and drink champagne.

Talia Dyer’s Gabbi makes a cute couple with Eleanor, and there is still sapphic representation on-screen with their relationship and Eleanor’s character in general, but it falls flat. Netflix marketed the movie as a romance within the leading couple, drawing viewers like me in to watch it, and then didn’t follow through with the representation it promised. 

This isn’t much of a surprise, considering Netflix’s history with canceling shows with sapphic leading couples after one season.

I was still hopeful that the movie would follow through on its themes about the pitfalls of academic elitism. Austin Abrams’ Max reminded me of my own high school nemesis, and I got my hopes up that the movie would subvert the expectations of a perfect life at a fancy private school that many Americans expect because of the prevalence of media like “Harry Potter.” 

While life at Rosehill Country Day isn’t perfect, Drea dreams of Yale acceptance like it's the only golden ticket to success. Drea is one of the only students at Rosehill on a scholarship, and experiences some bullying because of it at the beginning of the film. However, this isn’t touched on again beyond her fear of losing her scholarship.

Drea is a fashion icon in the way the main character of a teen comedy should be. All of her outfits are instantly memorable, featuring everything from bright colors to feather boas to giant sunglasses.

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The question that lingered at the back of my mind, however, was “How is she affording all of that?” The movie tells us she thrifts some of it, but thrifting that quantity and quality of clothing sounds more time consuming than we are led to believe Drea could manage.

It doesn’t seem that Drea is simply making ends meet to survive at Rosehill like the film wants us to believe — it’s more like Netflix was too shy to tell her story about economic disadvantage and being from an immigrant family. Even if she does reject Yale at the end of the movie to work for the Peace Corps, the (literal) violent elitism at Rosehill isn’t necessarily combatted the way I would have liked it to be.

So, you’re probably wondering where this movie turns itself around to still get a positive review from me. I wondered the same thing when I finished watching it. Despite obvious flaws, it was funny, it was witty, and I ended the film with a positive outlook on life (and maybe doing some of my own revenge).

Maya Hawke’s performance as Eleanor steals the show, and her descent from revenge-seeking to completely unhinged, though still justified, was amazing to feel like I was a part of. The entire film reverberates with a conspiratorial glow — as if we, as an audience, are really a part of two teen girls’ revenge on society, their school and each other. 

“Do Revenge” is messy and makes mistakes in how it handles serious subjects, but it has a lot of heart. Here’s to a new teen classic.

Rating: 8/10