Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Glesson, Will Poulter
Set in the era of westward expansion in the USA, an explorer named Hugh Glass (Leo) is left by his group after he is attacked by a bear and becomes too much of a burden to carry all the way back to their base. A couple of them however stay behind, but one of them (Tom Hardy) ends up killing Glass’ son and buries Glass alive. They think he’s dead yet somehow he survives, and motivated by revenge he starts to make his way back home, a journey not helped by some serious snow and a gang of Native Americans chasing after him.
I was torn over whether this film would be any good or not, split between my love for Leo, my favourite actor, and the bitter taste that I was left with after watching Birdman, a film also directed by Iñárritu (you can see my scathing review for that here). But it was absolutely worth it. Firstly, Leo is excellent in it, and I would be appalled if he didn’t finally get his Oscar for this (although given past injustices I’m not getting my hopes up). The script was minimal, yet I was totally gripped simply by Leo’s non-verbal acting; he really managed to express the pain and hardship he was suffering through despite barely saying anything, and his performance was so intense. Tom Hardy was great too, he was a good villain and was effectively psychopathic.
But Leo et al weren’t what I was worried about, it was the director. However, this was such a different storyline and context from Birdman that they can’t really be compared. The bit that I liked about Birdman, the continuous camera shots, were repeated in this and were really effective in giving a sense of realism and making the viewer feel like the camera was their own vision, if that makes sense. The landscape and wilderness shots were beautiful, and were filmed in a sort of green-blue-ish filter which gave a sense of the cold. I’m sure Iñárritu will be glad to know that I’ve forgiven him for the Birman atrocity and he’s made up for it with this stunner.
A quick word of warning, there are some rather brutal scenes in The Revenant, which I like in a film but I know it’s not to everyone’s tastes. I would say though that if you can get through the bear attack, the rest of the film makes up for it and is worth the three hours you’ll spend on the edge of your seat.