An unbearably taut, slow-simmering noir transposed to the vast countryside and its patient, drawn-out rhythms, Revanche (translation: Revenge) would – at least for its first two-thirds, plot-wise – be a rather standard-issue B-movie were it not for writer/director Götz Spielmann’s entrancing investigation of character, motivation and fate. In a story whose convenient coincidences would reek save for an unpretentious mood of Greek tragic inevitability, grim ex-con and Vienna brothel employee Alex (Johannes Krisch) is having a clandestine affair with one of the establishment’s call girls, Ukrainian beauty Tamara (Irina Potapenko). To escape their oily, thuggish employer (not to mention act out some dim-witted hero-savior fantasy), Alex decides to don a mask, wield an unloaded pistol and rob a local bank. It’s a foolhardy plan, leading to a murder and resulting in his absconding to his grandfather’s rural farm, where the next-door neighbors are a cop named Robert (Andreas Lust) who is connected to Alex’s crime, and Robert’s wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss). As Alex becomes consumed with thoughts of revenge against Robert, the cop and his wife’s relationship increasingly splinters under the weight of anxiety, resentment and anger, and Spielmann allows this downward-spiral similarity to unfold less like a clunky narrative parallel than as an example of a cycle of misery that’s ensnared kindred souls. The writer/director favors compositions wrought with planar schisms, quick pans from one on-screen figure to another previously out of the frame, and shots which linger on a setting for a moment after its inhabitants have departed, an aesthetic design which poignantly expresses characters’ anguished loneliness. As Revanche settles into its second half, in which Alex and Susanne embark on a romantic affair of twisted, dueling need, a moral lesson begins to emerge regarding the viability of attaining emotional satisfaction or true justice from vengeance. In lesser hands, the story’s climactic commentary on its titular concern would come off didactically, yet Spielmann deftly refuses to inflate his conclusion into an overarching statement about human behavior. Instead, he confines his focus so diligently to Alex and company’s particular circumstances that – bolstered by Krisch’s subtly modulated evocation of longing, despair and blind desperation – the film resonates with sledgehammer impact as a mournful portrait of (as conveyed by its rock-into-a-pond opening image) the irreconcilable ripple-effects that can stem from a single tranquility-shattering act.