REVIEW — “The Revenant”
“The Revenant” is the kind of film that comes about so rarely you can’t help but sit in the theater afterwards, and let it all gestate. Everything about this, from how it was made to how it was performed, was absolutely breathtaking. From start to finish, Alejandro G. Inarritu and co. took every painstaking minute, opportunity, chance, etc… to ensure we, the viewer, were treated to one of the most realistic, gritty, beautiful and mesmerizing revenge films of all time. Oh yes, the hype is real.
The ensemble cast, including: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hary, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Paul Anderson and Lukas Haas, all hit their perspective marks with unbelievable realism. A lot of this has to do with director Inarritu’s desire to film in some of the most remote and isolated locations, and over such a long period of time. The trials they endured as actors for their craft shines through their performances on the screen. The choreography in the hard-hitting action sequences, the dialect spoken, the way they composed themselves, and how they reacted differently to the various environmental elements shows the effort that went into JUST the actor’s performances.
Everything else surrounding the cast was top notch as well, and perhaps deserves even more credit. If you took out every human character you would still have one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever filmed. With a melancholy, if not slightly haunting, score weeping across every scene shift and establishing shot, the picture itself becomes its own character. As cruel as it is beautiful, the way the director of photography managed to frame every scene, utilizing natural light, really emphasizes the alluring yet dangerously isolated frozen wasteland our characters must trudge through. I expected nothing less from Emmanuel Lubezki, who has done the cinematography on Oscar contenders/winners like “Gravity” and “Children of Men.”
The script was written by director Alejando G. Inarritu and Mark L. Smith (“Vacancy”), but based on a novel by Michael Punke. Surprisingly, the entire story is based on something that actually happened, and the gritty realism on display here mixed with the fact that even PART of this actually happened, is enough to make you marvel at the inner strength of humanity. This is very much a story about revenge, but there’s also more to it. There’s a slight love angle mixed into the back story of our lead character, and the entire thing is about man’s will to survive (good or bad). This elevates the thrills, and gives the entire script a lot more substance than a typical revenge flick would have.
“The Revenant’ is a visually and viscerally stunning masterpiece. This is not your typical art house film, like “Under Her Skin,” where everything looks pretty, but severely lacks substance. It’s intense, gripping, thrilling, awe-inspiring, moving, beautiful and so much more all rolled into one epic, and sometimes brutal, experience. Even the long, drawn-out establishing landscape shots, that I typically feel are never used correctly, become an important element establishing the tone of the final product. The cast, writers, producers, directors, and other behind-the-scenes workers truly busted their asses to give us this incredible piece of cinema, and it is not to be missed. My review merely scratches the surface as to the epicness of this stunner. This is the film to beat at the Academy Awards, and should finally give Leo his much deserved Oscar. 5/5
Side note: There is a VERY intense bear attack scene in this movie, but contrary to popular rumor it doesn’t involve any form of sexual assault on behalf of either party involved. Whoever started the rumor is a twisted individual, and it wasn’t based off what happened in the film.