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Sweet Revenge (2000)

Sam Neill , Helena Bonham Carter , Malcolm Mowbray  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rupert Graves, Martin Clunes
  • Directors: Malcolm Mowbray
  • Writers: Malcolm Mowbray, Alan Ayckbourn
  • Producers: Flore Rougier, Georges Benayoun, Julia Palau, Marina Gefter, Mark Shivas
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2001
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056N92
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,508 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sweet Revenge" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

As Henry Bell (Sam Neill from Jurassic Park and The Piano) is preparing to throw himself off the Tower Bridge in London, he hears cries of help, which lead him to Karen Knightly (Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club, Howard's End), who has just thrown herself off of the bridge and gotten her belt caught on a protuberance. In short time they're telling each other what led them to take this drastic step, how they'd each like to kill a certain person who has made each of their lives miserable. Karen hatches a plan: They'll each take on the other's act of revenge. Henry's not so sure about this, but when he wakes up the following morning Karen's plans are already underway. She's fiercely determined that he keep up his end of the bargain and ruin the life of Imogen (Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral). Unfortunately, Henry falls in love with Imogen instead, leaving Karen with no choice but to enact revenge on Henry as well. Adapted from a play by Alan Ayckbourn, Sweet Revenge is blessed with sweet and funny performances by the three leads (who seem delighted by the opportunity to be frivolous), as well as capable work from a supporting cast of British character actors. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Screen favorites Sam Neill (BICENTENNIAL MAN, THE HORSE WHISPERER), Helena Bonham Carter (FIGHT CLUB, THE WINGS OF THE DOVE), and Kristin Scott Thomas (THE ENGLISH PATIENT, GOSFORD PARK) form a winning combination in this offbeat, uncommonly funny comedy! Quite by chance a downcast businessman Henry Bell (Neill) and quirky aristocrat Karen Knightly (Bonham Carter) save each other's life just as they were both attempting to leap from London's Tower Bridge! Then, Karen quickly invents a plot of devilish retaliation against those who drove them to the edge! She will punish the man who stole Henry's job and he will destory the life of the woman (Scott Thomas) who broke up Karen's love affair! With memorable performances from its stellar cast, this broadly entertaining comedy plays for big laughs when revenge is the name of the game!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
British humor is distinctly different from American humor and this film illustrates that point nicely. American humor hits you with a sledgehammer, with outrageous gags and extremely explicit content. British humor is full of innuendo, irony and subtlety. It is thoughtful wit, full of "aha!" moments. This is why Americans often refer to British humor as being dry, mostly because we don't like pondering over our comedy. We prefer a guffaw to a good snicker.
In this film, Karen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Henry (Sam Neill) meet one night on a bridge where they both went to commit suicide. Henry is interrupted from jumping by the cries of Karen who has botched her attempt. After he saves her, they commiserate and decide that getting revenge would be better than committing suicide. They make a pact where each of them agrees to even the score for the other with their respective objects of contempt.
Karen becomes a secretary to Henry's old boss (Steve Coogan) and proceeds to make his life a living hell, convincing his wife he is having an affair. Henry's target is Imogen (Kristen Scott Thomas), whom Karen hates because she stole her husband back from Karen, with whom he was having an affair. The film is replete with highbrow humor that you would only see in an English film. There is plenty of class-warfare comedy poking fun at the aristocracy.
Helena Bonham Cater is brilliantly droll as the diabolical Karen. She is deliciously evil as she cunningly plots Bruce's demise. Long known as a terrific dramatic actor, Bonham Carter shows here that she can convert that energy into an intensely offbeat and funny character with equal impact. Sam Neill is also entertaining as Henry, a bumbling victim of fate who allows himself to be swept along by circumstances.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Difference A 1st Class Playwright Can Make April 29, 2001
I used to go to the theater frequently and one playwright I came to adore was Alan Ayckbourn from the UK. He was to comedic plays what playwrights David Mamet and Sam Shepherd were to dramatic ones. Ayckbourn's gift is to hit dead on the essential underpinnings of the British middle and upper classes and set them up for laughter amidst a rollicking good story line. I was absolutely astounded to discover how good Helena Bonham-Carter is doing comedic material. When I first put the disk on the player, hubby saw she was in it and groaned, being convinced she plays nothing other than sullen witches. He was even more astounded than I was by the utterly transformed Bonham-Carter. The basic premise of the comedy is simple. Bonham-Carter will get revenge on Neill's competitor who stole his job. In exchange, Neill will wreck revenge upon the wife of Bonham-Carter's former lover. This leads to one hilarious scene after another with the high point being a duel in the woods, with shotguns, between Neill and the former lover. Only Ayckbourn could come up with 2 Brits using shotguns instead of dueling pistols in the name of honor and make it gently humorous instead of outright Monty Python zaney. If you have never seen an Ayckbourn play or film before, you are in for a treat. Ayckbourn becomes an acquired taste along the way that no other playwright fills quite as well in his little niche British world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangers on a Bridge December 1, 2005
As the story begins, Henry (Sam Neill) has lost his job to an unscrupulous co-worker, and has decided to end it all by jumping off Tower Bridge. There he meets eccentric Karen (Helena Bonham Carter) who has just bungled her own suicide attempt (her lover went back to his wife). They start talking about how much they wish their enemies were dead and Karen gleefully suggests they each do the job for the other. Henry assumes she's kidding, of course, but the next morning he finds Karen has gone ahead with the plan.

If you think this plot sounds a lot like Hitchcock's thriller, "Strangers on a Train," you're right. The difference is this one's played for big laughs with dark humor that I really enjoyed. Neill is very good as the innocent man who gets caught up in the wacky plot hatched by Bonham Carter's character. She steals the show with her outrageous cheekiness. Kristin Scott Thomas is the lover's haughty wife, and no one plays the disdainful aristocrat better than she does. Comic actor Steve Coogan is hysterical as Henry's nemesis. If you like British comedies, you'll love "Sweet Revenge;" it's fast, funny, and loaded with droll upper-class humor. Excellent!

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars eh... April 10, 2013
By K.J.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was expecting this to be a whole lot funnier than it was. It was OK but not a barrel of laughs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Comedy July 13, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I found this movie to be really funny due to the acting of Helena Bonham Carter. She is hysterical. Love her. The plot is good also.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining December 24, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
WIth a great cast, including two of the best three-name actresses, the worst you can say is that it looks a lot like a play. Not entirely. With good dialogue and performances, I had fun. Could it have been better? Sure. But I give it four stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever punchy British black comedy July 17, 2008
Taking a cue from American ex-pat Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, playwright Alan Ayckbourn penned the plays on which Sweet Revenge was based, in whith two strangers each agree to bump off the person causing him/her the most misery in their respective lives.

Of course Ayckbourn can't duplicate what Highsmith had already brilliantly done, so he starts things off with both parties being suicidal (definitely NOT part of the Highsmith story), then moves in very different directions from Highsmith indeed.

Malcolm Mowbray, the talented director of this movie, (he also directed another punchy black comedy, but set in the States, Out Cold--with Teri Garr, John Lithgow and Randy Quaid--highly recommended), has done a great job deftly blending wry British humor with black comedy (very black, indeed) as well as romantic highjinks and some outright guffaws.

When you see sparrows blithely flying around a living room, part of a huge mansion in which the younger son rides his motor scooter on a regular basis and the older sister (one of the two parties involved in the revenge pact) changes her appearance in the blink of an artistocratic eye, you can tell there's a lot of fun to be had.

And there is. Highsmith's story has no comedy whatsoever, but Ayckbourn is a master of this mesh of comedy and biting stuff, and that comes across beautifully in this film version. The acting by the three leads (Sam Neill, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Helena Bonham Carter) is great, with the definite nod for scene stealer going to Ms. Carter, who seems capable of doing basically anything in front of a camera (see Fight Club and Twelfth Night for radically different and consistently excellent performances).

A very nice piece of work. Recommended!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny
I purchased this black comedy because of the actors involved and it does not disappoint. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a silly romp.
Published 1 month ago by William
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Hilarious!
My husband and I thought this movie was a scream. You should probably know that this is dark humor and not to everyone's taste but there is a scene in it with Sam Neill that I... Read more
Published 4 months ago by marchapril
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet & Spirited Revenge
This is one of the most twisted (and most amusing!) movies I have ever seen. A British black comedy, "Sweet Revenge" starts out very seriously with two almost-attempted... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Princess_Polly
5.0 out of 5 stars older movies are great
I ran into this movie by accident, so glad I bought it, I watch it once a month! Very good movie I would buy it again.
Published 18 months ago by papa1935
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Revenge
Sweet Revenge is a very funny and captivating movie. Especially if
you like English mysteries.
Published on September 19, 2009 by Jane 15 X
3.0 out of 5 stars An oh-so-black comedy
I purchased this because of the rave reviews on Amazon and because I loved Aykbourn's brilliant The Norman Conquests. Read more
Published on May 4, 2007 by C.A. Arthur
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great moments, but ultimately lacking cohesion
I generally enjoy British comedies and prefer a good, thoughtful snicker over slapstick fun. When I watched this, I wanted to like it. Read more
Published on May 16, 2005 by bluetwilight
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!!!
I loved every second of this film. I can't imagine how anyone could not like it. It's funny, full of talented actors esp Sam Neill. Thoroughly entertaining!! A great buy.
Published on June 2, 2003 by Sarah Thomas
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