The Ferocious Western Tale Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart.
DIRECTED BY ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU/2015
If you are looking for something profound, cheerful or relevant to current culture, The Revenant might not be your best choice this weekend at the Cineplex. But if you are looking to be amazed by a fantastic journey and a true tale from the American West, AND if you love beautiful landscapes filmed by the best cinematographer working today, AND if you want to see a scene that will surely be studied in film school for years to come, (Yes, I’m talking about the bear scene!!!) then get a babysitter, splurge and see The Revenant as big and as loud as you possibly can.
Movies like The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Hateful Eight are what giant screens and projectors are made for! This is Pure Cinema at it’s finest!
The Revenant is loosely based on the 2002 Michael Punke novel about the real life 1823 fur trader and tracker Hugh Glass played magnificently by Leonardo DiCaprio. Glass and Capt. Andrew Henry, the brilliant Domhnall Gleeson, head up a band of trappers that is attacked by the Arikara Indians. In retreat Glass falls prey not only to a mama grizzly bear protecting her cubs but to John Fitzgerald, a scalped and wicked awesome Tom Hardy. Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, Will Poulter, are given the task of caring for Glass along with Hawk, Forrest Goodluck, Glass’s son. Fitzgerald doesn’t care for Glass nor his son and wants to get paid. Glass won’t die and the aforementioned Arikara Indians are hot on their trail! Eventually Glass is betrayed and left for dead in a shallow grave. To get the vengeance he seeks Glass will have to survive the trauma from the bear attack, starvation, French trappers, Arikara Indians and drag his mutilated carcass through the frozen wilderness! The word revenant means a ghost or someone who has come back from the dead and this film is named accordingly. Glass is on a journey from the grave back to the world of the living.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel, Amores Perros) put his cast and crew through “A Living Hell” by filming in -25 degrees Alberta, Canada and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Seriously, there are reports that upwards of 20 crew members quit the production outright halfway through filming. Iñárritu went over schedule, over budget, made a vegan Leonardo DiCaprio eat a real bison liver, shot only in natural light and avoided special effects so we could witness an awesome epic about survival! “When you see the film, you will see the scale of it,” promises Iñárritu. “And you will say, ‘Wow!” Iñárritu teamed up with Mark L. Smith (Vacancy, The Hole) to write The Revenant. You see a major shift in focus for Iñárritu from where he was in the early 2000’s with Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Those films spotlight how truth is revealed in the intersections and messiness of relationships. Now it seems that Iñárritu with Biutiful, Birdman and The Revenant is focused on a central character in a pivotal moment of life. And The Revenant is his first film based on actual events.
Let’s talk acting. This is DiCaprio’s finest work. (Better than The Wolf of Wall Street and The Departed.) While most of his lines are grunts, moans or another language he is completely convincing. So much has been made about this being “Leo’s Year” and that if he wins the Oscar it will basically be a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. That sells him short! He deserves the recognition he is getting because his portrayal of Glass is superior. He’s authentic in every terrifying moment. You believe that he is broken beyond measure but he pushes himself to survive. The supporting cast is excellent and it is wonderful to see Domhnall Gleeson continue his winning 2015! (Ex Machina, Brooklyn and Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens) Tom Hardy’s year wasn’t too shabby with Mad Max: Fury Road and Legend following up last year’s brilliant Locke. He is a near perfect protagonist in The Revenant. You hate him and you pity him and then hate him some more. These men make you forget they were ever in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Star Trek: Nemesis or Titanic. All you know is the cold horrific journey they all experience.
The story is solid, the directing is punishing and dedicated, the acting is raw and fantastic and the cinematography is totally awe inspiring! Seriously, see this in a theater and don’t watch it on your iPad! Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki might just win his third Oscar in a row for The Revenant. (He won last year for Birdman and in 2014 for Gravity.) Known for his stunning work with Terrence Malick, (The New World, The Tree of Life and 2016’s Knight of Cups) Lubezki’s style of long stares at wide open skies and quiet intimate moments is a class all it’s own. He conveys perfectly the cold brutal frontier and the deadly elements along side the striking landscapes. He is a master, and the scenes he captures are pure art. Lubezki is my favorite cinematographer and I will see The Revenant again in theaters just to witness the beauty he has created. PS… If you aren’t following Lubezki on Instagram YOU ARE MISSING OUT!!!!
The Revenant will put you on the edge of your seat for all 156 glorious minutes. From the horrific battle that begins the film to the last final stare from DiCaprio you will be transfixed. This is one of the best films of 2015 and it should not be missed! In fact it made it onto several of our contributor’s Best Of Lists.