As beautiful as it is brutal, The Revenant is one of the more uncompromising and utterly exhausting films we have seen in a while. It is not one for the faint hearted, the squeamish or the easily distracted. With ruthless opening fight scene that doesn’t cut once, the hand is played. The Revenant will have you in awe visually and drained physically and emotionally, with one of the best movie experiences of the year.
Leo goes in in this film. You could criticise Leonardo DiCaprio at times for maybe playing the Oscar game too much, not playing it well enough though it would seem. And while this feels like more of the same from Leo, choosing this 19TH century piece from the guy who just won a Best Picture, there is no doubting Leo’s commitment to a role. There is absolutely ferocious commitment to a part that sees him not speak for a large portion instead becoming adept at a vocabulary of grunts. Aside from DiCaprio, Hardy is pure evil, and does it very well. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter make up the rest of the cast that you really care about and find themselves on opposing sides of the chase.
The story is simple. A classic revenge tale of father going after his son’s killer. But the story in a way plays second fiddle to just about everything else, with the absolutely gorgeous cinematography and performances that give 200% taking the lead role here. There are criticisms that can be flung The Revenants way: story nothing special, Leo on his I need dis Oscar vibe, Tom Hardy’s ridiculous accent. But none of these really matter.
None of these really matter mainly due to the absolutely gorgeous direction of Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and stunning cinematography from his Birdman counterpart Emmanuel Lubezki. Every shot in the film has purpose. Whether it is to calm you down after a rise in tension, mainly through straight cuts that seem harsh at times but are for the most part on point. The film is a beautiful piece of cinema regardless of what the story does or doesn’t do and you would expect nothing less from Innaritu.
As described above, The Revenant is pure cinematic brutality. Everything from the visual spectacular to the sound mixing, that makes every hit strike with intensity, delivers an experience that left everyone staring at the screen as the credits rolled wondering, “What the fuck just happened”. It’s not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But if you can make it through this very worthwhile experience you’ll be, well, most likely just as dumbfounded as I was.
One of the more draining yet completely satisfying film experiences of the year.