29 February 2016 | lnvicta
Harrowing storytelling with a gorgeous cinematic backdrop, The Revenant is not for the faint of heart but will stick with those who make the journey.
Since the first trailers of this movie came out I knew it would be an experience. Following the incredible Birdman, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu had the public anxiously awaiting his interpretation of this bleak survival story, and much like Birdman, Iñárritu is also the star of this film. The Revenant has some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen. It's cold, visceral, and almost entirely authentic from the use of natural lighting to the barebones yet powerful storytelling. You can tell Iñárritu poured his heart into this project and it pays off tremendously. This is not to discount the incredible performances of DiCaprio and Hardy (DiCaprio finally getting his well-overdue Oscar), but it's hard to imagine the movie being so impactful had another director been at the helm.
The story is as simple as it gets. In the 1800s, a group of settlers escape an ambush by an indigenous tribe, and during their travels one man gets separated from the group and gets brutally attacked by a wild bear and subsequently left for dead by his team. It's a revenge story more than anything. What it also highlights is human perseverance and the will to live. The things that happen to this man are truly horrific and difficult to watch. I'm not sure what parts of the story were embellished or Hollywoodized, but this film sucks you into this world and puts you right alongside this fatally wounded man desperate to survive. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a heart-wrenching performance as Hugh Glass, expressing a wide range of emotions despite the limited dialogue. Tom Hardy is also phenomenal as one of the most vile, wretched human beings on the planet. This guy is despicable to the core, and you forget you're watching Tom Hardy at times because he's completely absorbed in the role. The supporting cast is great as well despite their small time on screen. As far as performances and cinematography goes, The Revenant is flawless.
What prevents this from getting a perfect 10 is one particular storyline that I didn't think was needed, and it involves the wife of Hugh Glass. She's never developed as a character but she appears intermittently in visions and dreams and it almost sucks you out of the movie for a second because of how intense the main narrative is. But this is a very small gripe. From beginning to end this movie had me on the edge of my seat, my jaw on the floor and my eyes glued to the screen. The Revenant is definitely not for everyone, but it's impossible not to appreciate it for the breathtaking cinematic achievement that it is.