The Revenant

Director: Alejandro Inarritu

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Forrest Goodluck, Melaw Nakehk'o

Synopsis:

1820’s American Wilderness. The frontier. Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is a scout, hunter, and father of a young Pawnee boy named Hawk. While working with fur traders, he is severely injured and left for dead by a traitorous member of his group, John Fitzgerald (Hardy). Determined to enact revenge, Glass must navigate a hostile land, a ruthless winter, and warring Native tribes in his quest to survive, and exact vengeance on Fitzgerald.

What’s boss?

Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Hugh Glass. While grating, or even a little bit painful to watch at some points due to his harsh circumstances, it is a performance to be commended for its depth and detail, and I can't have anything other than admiration for him. From all reports, Leo was pushed very hard by the director (Inarritu) to get as grounded and believable a performance as possible (Inarritu insisted the film be shot in narrative sequence, for example). He frequently speaks in the native language of his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), in the film, and although I am no expert on pronunciation and accents regarding Native American languages, I certainly enjoyed hearing it, and thought it gave us a real hook into the depth with which Hugh and his son care for and love each other. I continually felt his character's struggle, and the weight with which he had to operate within this world. He captured the precarious balance between life and death being only ever moments away perfectly, in my mind, and along with some grizzly sequences, gave me an understanding of the choices in play when one has to survive out in the wild, while trying to remain determined in achieving an objective.

The other thing that struck me in the film was the wonderful cinematography. Meticulously crafted and selected shots take you into the expanse of the American Wilderness (although, a large portion of the film was shot in Canada and Argentina), giving us unfettered access to the physical toil of the characters as they make their way through the chaos of nature.  

What’s crummy?

Not much. There are a few plot holes that I can forgive pertaining to small but important threads in the story, and even though Tom Hardy appears to be an ancestor of Bane from The Dark Knight, most things have been rigorously thought through, and not much seems out of place. The good outweighs the bad too much for me to want to worry about it beyond the brief mention I have given it here.

Who’s boss?  

Alejandro Inarritu as Director. Inarritu directed critical hit, Birdman, and established himself as a director of unique vision. Drawn to stories that follow themes to do with redemption, or returning from obscurity (from the dead even), he is always asking philosophical questions- who are we? Who am I? Am I relevant? He questions our reality, and what inspires us to continue living, and the value we place on 'things'. I still prefer Birdman as a film overall, but it is fair to say that Inarritu has a well thought out, unique style of film making, that is steeped in a deep love for storytelling and a massive work ethic. His films are detailed, nuanced, visceral, and he seems capable of changing the scope and scale of his worlds without too much trouble.

Who’s crummy?

There was a tree that didn’t do a very good job being a tree. Seriously, I can’t really fault the performances, given the levels with which all the performers went to portray their characters. I've made a brief mention about the increasingly repetitive vocal style of Tom Hardy characters (The Dark Knight, Lawless, now The Revenant) which I find frustrating at times, and consequently I find myself not caring or investing enough in his characters- however, he is a good actor, these are choices that the director obviously helps with or endorses, and what he does in this film, ultimately, serves the story very well.

What’s similar?

If you like frontier type movies that explore human connection to the land, freedom, and the human condition when placed in extreme circumstances in nature/war/with each other- then I would recommend seeking out ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, ‘A New World’, or ‘Apocalypto.’

The Revenant is a harrowing tale of survival spurred on by vengeance, in a land full of nature's most chaotic extremities. Through the action, we see a subtle and nuanced look into the emotional destruction enacted upon Native Americans by European settlers, foreshadowing the future and continuing deconstruction of culture. This inevitably holds a mirror up to us, and our own past, present, and future. Are we the good people we think we are? Or more importantly, are we the good people that we want to be, and should be? This is an immersive film experience, one which I highly recommend. Definitely not one for the kids, so please pay good attention to the MA15+ Rating. 

Sac Score: Supersac + Tubesac

Written by Rod @ Lovesac

Let Rod know your thoughts on the film in the comments section below.


1 Comment

Ben
Ben

February 28, 2016

It looks great, but I found it hard to watch. It’s kind of like watching someone in pain for two hours and being able to do nothing about it.

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