Johannes Krisch did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alex in Revanche.
Johannes Krisch in the central role is the man we probably would assume will be seeking that titular vengeance though on the outset of the film we have no idea what it will be for, however one can begin to imagine what it could be rather quickly. Krisch projects a rough exterior of a man who has been through at least something, which is fitting as we later learn that Alex went to prison. Krisch's portrayal of this is actually just a small facet of the character that he purposefully portrays as something that in no way defines the man wholly, it is indeed just a minor facet. We see Alex in his life as working at brothel as a janitor where his girlfriend Tamara (Irina Potapenko) works as a prostitute. This would seem like the setup for perhaps a rather bleak existence, and while it's not great, it is not as terrible as the description might make it seem. The reason being due to his relationship with, hidden from Tamara's boss, between Alex and Tamara. Krisch and Potapenko have a terrific naturalistic chemistry with one another. There is such an abundance of genuine warmth in their interactions that only ever exude a love between the two. I love the way both actors make this such an essential part of this as in their interactions they bring this certain casual disarming quality much of the time that only reinforces the idea that these two people share a clear affection for each other and love spending time with one another.
Alex, even when not directing interacting with Tamara, Krisch does not play as an excessively desperate or problematic individual. It's an interesting and effective approach in that Krisch gives sort of a rather casual take on the role. In that he shows a man fairly comfortable within himself and even within his world for the most part. Krisch delivers this level of playfulness in Alex that does well to allude towards sort of his optimistic state as a man, even if his situation would seem problematic to most. Krisch holds this most strongly in regards to that central relationship, however even past that he establishes Alex as very comfortable with his life in a very strange way. A strange way that Krisch's vivid performance makes entirely convincing through that almost childish approach. Krisch reveals a man who almost treats the life as almost a game, however this is not in a callous way. Krisch instead shows it in terms of the perspective of Alex as essentially a child. This includes when he speaks of his intention to rob a bank, or even when he brandishes a gun in Tamara's face. This scene would typically be of some psychopath however Krisch's enthusiasm in his delivery not towards the threat but rather revealing there were never any bullets in the gun is closer to that of some little boy than a hardened criminal. His explanation of his intent even for the robbery itself Krisch brings this eagerness in the words more fitting to a dream rather than a crime.
Krisch's performance makes Alex not only convincing in terms of his attitude but manages to create this innate likability towards the character. He not only portrays the man with a lack of malice but also makes that lack of malice believable by so effectively realizing this certain naivety within the character. That is not to say though that the life of Alex is without problems. Krisch does provide a needed balance that underlies that, as his experience is far from ideal. We see this in a brief moment where visits his farmer grandfather in the countryside who disparages his wayward grandson. Krisch's reactions towards the man are brief in this moment but still maintain this state of Alex. Krisch expresses this by essentially portraying little to no reaction fitting to the man paying no mind in a way to his life by ignoring this disparagement of it. Of course even his relationship with Tamara has that major problem due to her profession exacerbated by her boss who is becoming increasingly possessive potentially even purposefully having customers harass her. Alex intervenes in those moments, and does try to comfort her through these times. In these moments though Krisch is great as exudes only the most genuine warmth in just only further supporting their relationship as well as encouraging their dream running away together through the bank robbery.
The actual bank robbery is far from that of a typical heist picture, as Alex brings Tamara along with his rather foolish plan that involves bluffing his way through the whole ordeal. Again I love the way Krisch only delivers this most direct enthusiasm when speaking of the plan showing that Alex very much believes in the idea in the purest of ways even though it is a crime. When he brings her along even Krisch's work allows this to be more of an oversight on his part than any real intention to cause a problem. The robbery goes off well enough however complication ensues when a local police officer Robert (Andreas Lust) chances upon their vehicle while Alex is in the act, and Tamara is waiting for him to return. Alex coming across the officer in front of the vehicle is nearly even comedic moment through Krisch's reaction which is more of a "uh oh" than anything else. Alex bluffs the officer into submission as well allowing the two to escape in the vehicle however he does not prevent the officer from firing at them as they leave. The initial moment Krisch captures with such excitement of his dream apparently coming to fruition with such hope in his eyes, and just cheery glint in his smile just at the very idea that a cop tried to shoot them as though it was some adventure while believing themselves to be free and clear. Sadly the film must take its darker turn, particularly for the character of Alex, when he finds Tamara has been killed by the officer's gunshots.
Krisch's depiction of Alex's realization of Tamara's death is absolutely devastating. He captures the extreme nature of the sheer emotional pain of the man completely within his being. His portrayal of this fallout is incredible as he shows how Alex losing the grip on everything as he barely can speak, and shakes from the anguish. It is made all the more moving because of how genuinely heartfelt the relationship had been before this point, and Krisch's breakdown represents this loss all in this pivotal moment. It is made all the more powerful as within this Krisch rapidly shows the way all hope, all dreams, and all that tenderness of before fades from his eyes. Alex wholly changes from this point and Krisch not only earns this transition from this moment, but also he so well presents the lasting impact within his performance. This single moments haunts the rest of Krisch's work keeping as this constant within the man. Krisch overlays this shadow that keeps the sense of this loss as an ever present element in his work. From this point on Krisch makes the man ever colder, ever quieter in every interaction of a man whose heart has been pierced by reality. Krisch carefully keeps Alex in all his most private moments still suffering directly from this, and again he takes right back to the breakdown with that same intensity defined by the what it was that he lost.
After his loss Alex rather than running decides to hide out at his grandfather's farm. Krisch now shows a man so very changed in this now consistent intensity in his manner in which that trauma, which he hides in terms of the truth of it from others, but is made ever present in his performance. It develops now in every sense in sorrow, but also hate as even as Alex goes about his chores on the farm there is a palatable anger. An anger Krisch doesn't portray as towards his work but rather infuses towards it because still of that loss. It is interesting also how Krisch naturally shifts the interactions between the grandfather which now switch the type of distance, initially. In that Krisch now portrays direct reactions to the old man's words which only to seem to create the ever greater strain as the old man essentially tries to reform Alex, which he rejects. A further complication arises, and the titular revenge becomes more likely, when Alex comes to learn that Robert the officer responsible for Tamara's death lives by, and Alex also by chance frequently comes into contact with his wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss). Alex's initial interactions towards her are of that similair distance, as Kirsch reinforces the man being stuck within his own thoughts, that is until he learns who she is. That intensity Kirsch readjusts in his work as his eyes begin to show some purpose, a purpose fueled through hate.
Krisch is fantastic in portraying the darkness of this descent at first as he accentuates the most negative emotions. He brings a raw yet subtle anger in every glance towards Susanne initially, which than becomes all the more evident when he begins to stalk her husband after learning of his daily routine. Now what is truly remarkable about this film is this all seems set up to go one way, but then there is a shift to which Krisch is an essential part in making as poignant as it is. This begins as Susanne basically invites Alex to have an affair with her, partially because she cannot become pregnant by her infertile husband but also due to some attraction towards the hardened Alex. Krisch does not return this though as their first tryst on his end, even in the sexual act itself, Krisch portrays as a vicious act defined by the malice that has now come into his mind. This relationship, and that with his grandfather, both whom try to encourage him towards a better life, though causes a shift. A shift so elegantly and convincingly portrayed by Krisch. He does not make this obvious change, but in his reactions towards them he conveys so well the small ways their words slowly works towards his better nature that we saw in the early scenes. In turn Krisch slowly begins to change his direct delivery towards them that eases and delivers that tenderness of old, though not as strongly as in the opening scenes of the film.
The certain darkness still remains however Krisch again returns more just to this emotional pain particularly in one heartbreaking sequence where he finally verbalizes his devastation and loss to Susanne. Krisch is outstanding in the scene because in the moment he shows a man simply heartbroken with this yearning for any solace or understanding from what has been taken from him. This is in contrast to his confrontation of sorts with Robert. Alex never directly reveals himself and Krisch's work accentuates this almost reserved calculation for the moment of either a executioner or a judge set to determine the man's fate. When the man reveals his own turmoil, as well as causes Alex to see his own culpability, Krisch's reaction is one of resignation, but also creates this sense of empathy as Alex feels his own pain yet seems to sense Robert's as well. Krisch in the end no longer shows a man trying to hold onto the hate yet rather finally finds a certain solace in no longer being absorbed by that. In the end there is still a clear sadness that Krisch shows, but now with this hint of hope, and even just a bit of that joy we saw in the Alex we met in the film's opening. The very idea of this film completely goes against the typical nature of a revenge film which usually requires either the "hero" or the "villain" or both to die. In this film neither fits either role, and neither dies yet it is no less powerful than what is found in the best form of that more traditional narrative. The film's less incendiary examination of the theme ends up becoming something rather profound, and Krisch's outstanding work is an essential element within this. His performance so humanizes the struggle, the temptation of the hatred, but also in the end the path towards forgiveness.