Art of Revenge (2002) Movie Review

After her husband of 7 years leaves her because, as he tells his best friend, he wants to screw hot chicks (or something to that effect), career woman Lara (Joyce Hyser) puts everything on hold to go about the “art of revenge”. And that, I’m afraid, is as substantial as “Art of Revenge” gets.

If you’re looking for deep characters, the Jerk played by Stephan Jenkins (in an embarrassing piece of “acting”) is as deep as you’ll get, which is not very deep at all. Actually, the only intriguing aspect of “Revenge” is trying to figure out why writer/director Simon Gornick cast Tembi Locke, a black woman, as the wife of Ben (David DeLuise), who is white. Did he plan it all along? Or did Gornick realized, halfway through shooting, that he was missing a minority face? Ah yes, it’s these little irrelevant thoughts that keep me awake during films like “Revenge”.

Having left his wife, who had supported him all these 7 years while he tried to establish a career of his own, Matt (Jenkins) does what he told Ben he wants to do — screw hot chicks like screwing hot chicks is going out of style sometime soon. Meanwhile, Lara isn’t the type of woman to take being used and then tossed away without some vindictive urges rising to the surface.

Of course being that Matt is basically a brainless oaf, it doesn’t take much for Lara to direct him into the arms of Tuesday (Nichole Hiltz), a professional conwoman and temptress. Under the employment of Lara, conwoman Tuesday maneuvers the traitorous Romeo into a final doom — or something “doom”-ish like that. Point is, she’s really ticked off and wants some serious payback. Although why she keeps going back to Matt and pretending she’s all over the break-up, and now just wants to be friends “like they used to be”, is something of a mystery. I guess she enjoys suffering and hiding it.

As the film progresses, one gets the feeling that Tuesday has something else up her sleeve. Which leads me to this conclusion: Maybe hiring the woman who stole your wallet to seduce your ex-husband wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe Lara isn’t as clever as I thought, and maybe she’s just as big an oaf as Matt, despite the fact that the screenplay keeps trying to convince us they’re both really educated and cultured. Although I have to admit that listening to Matt regurgitate intellectual nonsense is pretty entertaining stuff — mostly because the actor is just not up to the task.

Before you start getting the wrong impression, let me set you straight. “Art of Revenge” is all about titillation and no follow-through. And I do mean not a single follow-through. When Matt goes through L.A.’s women populace with the speed of a rhino, we’re told about it but never shown. When Tuesday seduces and has sex with DeLuise in a motel, we just see the aftermath. The movie looks and feels like the Skin Flicks that fill up Cinemax’s late-night schedules, but it’s all tease. Or, to put it bluntly, “Art of Revenge” is a Cinemax Skin Flicks but with all the naughty bits edited out. Except in this case there was never any “naughty bits” to edit out.

The result is a poor film that tries to seduce, but it’s all too superficial to take seriously. The film’s only saving grace is Joyce Hyser, who is a terrific actress and sells her scorned woman with aplomb. Nichole Hiltz comes from the Jaime Pressley school of acting, what with her feline-ish features and low, whispery line delivery. Hiltz is undoubly gorgeous, but she’s as convincing as a Femme Fatale as Stephan Jenkins is as an intellectual hunk.

The movie is very short at just 85 minutes of running time, with the last 10 minutes saved for a ludicrous twist ending that makes the mind-boggling twists and turns of “Basic” seem coherent by comparison. Besides Hyser, the only other thing “Art of Revenge” can brag about is the cinematography by Patrice Lucien Cochet. The movie is obviously low budget, with only a couple of locations making up the entire film; also, the cast is kept to a manageable minimum. And yet, with Cochet’s help, the movie is aesthetically pleasing, with some nice interior work that, in other hands (and taking into consideration the budget), would have become yet another victim of non-existent production values.

“Art of Revenge” also went by the alternate title of “Angelic Tuesday”, not that it matters since whatever title it goes by, the film is too much promise and no delivery. The whole thing is so tame that the movie could have been shown on the Lifetime basic cable network in complete fashion with only the swear words bleeped out.

Simon Gornick (director) / Simon Gornick (screenplay)
CAST: Stephan Jenkins …. Matthew Kane
Joyce Hyser …. Lara Kane
Nichole Hiltz …. Tuesday Arcatur
Tembi Locke …. Izzy Bloom
David DeLuise …. Benjamin Bloom

Buy Art of Revenge on DVD