Monday, February 01, 2016

The Revenant

Year: 2015
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Plot: A frontiersman fights to survive after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting crew in 1820s Louisiana.

Review: The Revenant has received a huge number of nominations for the upcoming Oscars, and after viewing it, I have little reason to argue with that.

The story takes place circa 1823 in the Louisiana woods where a group of fur trappers are suddenly attacked by the Arikara natives, forcing them to flee. On the way back, Hugh Glass, the man in charge of directing the men home, is mauled by a bear. Severely injured and possibly facing death, the captain orders two men, Fitzgerald and Bridger to keep Glass and his half native son company till he passes, then bury him properly. Fitzgerald, greedy and fearful for his own life, kills Glass' son, lies to Bridger and heads back to camp, leaving Glass to die in a shallow grave. However, the man survives, slowly heals up and makes his way back through the cold winter to get even with Fitzgerald.

The first thing you'll notice about The Revenant is how beautiful it looks. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki puts in amazing work in capturing the adventure and scenery here. It is so good it puts the viewer right there with the actors, which is no small feat. Credit also goes to Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto for their awesome score and Jack Fisk for stupendous set design work. But truly, everything comes together thanks to director Alejandro G. Inarritu, who successfully translates a partly true story to the silver screen. The opening natives attack is pretty intense and violent, which is almost reminiscent of the Normandy attack in Saving Private Ryan. The bear attack scene is brutal as well, followed by Glass' harrowing and painful journey towards revenge. Inarritu has obviously put himself and his cast and crew through hell to bring this film to life, and it's worth every dollar spent.

Leonardo DiCaprio, still hunting for his elusive first Oscar, may very well earn it here. His approach to playing Hugh Glass is almost like how Daniel Day Lewis would inhabit a role, though he stops short at adopting exact mannerisms and whatnot. DiCaprio is as convincing and intense as he's ever been, and it shows. Tom Hardy is equally good as Fitzgerald, playing a man who is greedy and desperate, but not totally deplorable. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter also put in solid work too as Captain Henry and Bridger respectively, but this film is mostly DiCaprio's shining achievement.

The film's main flaw is the editing, as there are too many draggy scenes involving still shots of trees or the sky, or dream sequences involving Glass' late wife and son. This does cause the film to be less compelling than it could have been, but not too much. Thanks to DiCaprio and Hardy, The Revenant manages to keep the audience mostly focused till the end.

One could say that The Revenant is a film that will be one of its kind for many years to come, simply because of how magnificent it is to behold. Recommended. (8/10) 

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