In the spirit of female revenge porn, Sentinelle fulfills some but not all of the genre's expectations.
“It’s a war within yourself that never goes away.” Buried Above Ground
Sentinelle is a Netflix actioner with so little fat you want to stuff it with croissants. Although I am consistently in favor or minimalism, this revenge porn entry also needs a heavy dose of Viagra. If you’re looking for a French take on Taken, you can enjoy a few kick-ass moments and get out 80 minutes later none the worse off.
Klara (Olga Kurylenko) suffers from PTSD (see quote above) after Operation Sentinelle as the opening amply sets up. Upon coming home to France, after a club visit with her sister, her sister is beaten and raped. The tragedy gives Klara the excuse to off some cookie-cutter thugs in pursuit of wealthy and protected very bad guys.
Although it’s pleasing to see Klara take down baddies twice her diminutive size, even those encounters are skin tight, giving too little satisfaction to those of us who like a bit of banter before the revenge. That sparse emotional take on Klara and the evildoers robs us of the vicarious, Promising-Young-Woman fulfillment that shows just how much the bad-boys deserve their punishment. The filmmakers’ reluctance to take further Klara’s lesbian orientation robs us again of a rich understanding of her complex character. The gratuitous sex scene after the club visit is not enough.
According to the dictates of the revenge genre, this little whirlwind will get her man and thereby satisfy our need for closure to the crimes. Cinema has been attentive to the #me-too mandate (even in our daily lives vengeance has shaken the tree of a once noble politician like NY governor Cuomo), and now women are depicted as central symbols of a society that has had enough violation of the vulnerable. In other words, bring her on; don’t hold back.
Although Sentinelle promises to be a complement to the French tough ladies like Nikita, it reduces its scope by not attending fully to the genre, which is woke with the need for full emotional disclosure and full closure.
Director: Julien Leclercq (The Bouncer)
Screenplay: Leclercq, Matthieu Serveau (Earth and Blood)
Cast: Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace)
Run Time: 1h 20m
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com