‘Femme’ Review: An Alluring Queer Revenge Thriller


Recently, it feels as if queer media is almost at a standstill. Thankfully, with films like Passages and shows like Fellow Travelers it feels like queer media may be seeing a turn, offering audiences endeavors that utilize the inherent importance of sex and heightened emotions to showcase their plots. An underrated—and frankly unseen—gem that has been recently added to the mix is Femme, a new revenge thriller that not only reimagines what the genre can be, but perfectly flips it on its head.

Adapted from the short film of the same name, the film follows Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), who works as a drag performer known as Aphrodite Banks. After a performance that leaves him on a high, Jules pops into a convenience store, still in costume and makeup. Also present is a man whom Jules saw earlier that night, but this time he’s not alone, dragging along a group of brash and loud friends. They begin to make fun of Jules, before attacking him and leaving him beaten and bloody on the sidewalk. Shaken, Jules doesn’t want to perform again, instead taking to holding up in his apartment, stewing in his fear, and soon enough his anger.

One day at a sauna, Jules spots the man from the attack and decides to make a move. Beneath the tattoos and rough accent, there’s more to Preston (George MacKay). He and Jules have sex, and from there, their relationship begins to spiral. Jules’ goal here is to get a video of Preston while they’re being intimate and expose him to get back at him for the attack. But, as their relationship becomes more transgressive Jules and Preston’s motivations both become skewed. 

Also Read: ‘World of Horror’ Review: A Stunning Tribute To Junji Ito

From the beginning, it’s clear there’s something different about Femme. It’s not a run-of-the-mill revenge flick, nor is it a typical queer film of the modern age. Directors Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping expertly craft a cat-and-mouse game where the two main characters inhabit both archetypes. Jules stalks Preston through the shadows, streetlights the only thing illuminating his face as his eyes never stray from his attacker. Preston on the other hand looks at Jules with a staggering amount of desire. It’s almost as if he can’t believe the man in front of him truly exists. 

George MacKay delivers a career-defining performance here, one that is so staggeringly vulnerable at times it hurts to look at him. While Preston is never absolved of his sins, as Femme goes on, he becomes more sympathetic to not only Jules but to the audience as well. Underneath his skin lies a shell of a man terrified of the world and the people who inhabit it. The only person who can burrow themselves underneath his skin is Jules, played by the equally phenomenal Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

Also Read: ‘The Curse’ Review: Nathan Fielder Reinvents the Haunted House Genre

It’s a complicated thing, their relationship, not just for them but for the audience as well. There are moments where Preston feels like a completely different person than the violent man we were first introduced to. We’re forced to question if we should feel sorry for him, or still hate him. The answer is more complicated than “yes” or “no,” and even in the film’s final moments the director makes sure that we feel conflicted. 

Many have been desperately searching for films and television shows where queer characters are actual people, rather than stereotypical figures of grace. Here, it feels like we’ve finally crossed a threshold in representation, with both Jules and Preston being far from perfect. They both engage in this volatile relationship for their own gain, each weaving their own complicated web until each is ensnared by the other. It’s refreshing to say the least, watching two men who cannot be considered perfect aiding in each other’s demise and at times, their growth.

Also Read: ‘Loop Track’ Review: A Paranoid and Unpredictable Horror Thriller

Femme quickly becomes an exercise in forcing its characters—and subsequently its audience—to question their motives and the very core of their beings. At the end of the day, harboring the amount of anger Jules does ultimately leads him to a life of uncertainty and danger. Preston as well suffers under the ever-present anger that looms over his head, ebbing and flowing until it explodes like a volcano.

Revenge thrillers have been done to death, especially in the last few years. But Freeman and Ping thankfully offer us more to chew on. They carefully craft a film that manages to feel like something wholly original and new. While watching the film, it feels like you’re witnessing something important. From its soul-shattering performances to its raw exploration of queer life, Femme is a film that you cannot miss. 

Femme is now showing in the UK and will be released in North American theaters on March 22nd. 



Femme is a new revenge thriller that not only reimagines what the genre can be, but perfectly flips it on its head.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter