The Revenant (2015)

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Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Release: December 25, 2015

Review Author: Tony

Rating: 4.25/5 glasses of the finest brandy

It’s strange that the Revenant is being referred to as a blockbuster, while the budget and worldwide release would certainly justify the title the Revenant seems more like an arthouse picture than a mainstream film. The Revenant is the second most expensive passion film of 2015 behind Mad Max: Fury Road and it’s easy to see why Iñárritu secured the huge budget and creative control as Birdman was a smash hit.

The Revenant is not an easy film to categorize; it neither sits comfortably under the title as blockbuster or western but rather is its own beast. While stripped down the film is a revenge story yet Iñárritu adds so many layers to it. Our protagonist is already a tragic figure by the start of the film yet over the course of the film he experiences probably some of the worst luck anyone could bare. A common theme of this year’s academy awards is survival with the Revenant, the Martian and Mad Max nominated for most awards.

Definitely the bleakest film I’ve seen this year, the Revenant brings us back to the American frontier in 1900’s and quickly establishes that this was a cold and harsh era. The film is jaw dropping beautiful with vast long shots of pure white landscapes and seas of wilderness, Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have crafted a true visual masterpiece.

Please may 2016 be the year that Leonardo DiCaprio gets the Oscar for best performance just so everyone can stop talking about it, I’m withered from hearing complaints of how he hasn’t obtained the award. Leonardo Di Caprio is one of the finest actors of our generation and has given some of the best performances captured on-screen, his body of work speaks for itself and no one person can deny his talent and he does not need an Oscar to verify this. The Academy Award for best performance is treated like the holy grail of acting, as the ultimate confirmation of an actor’s ability, yet the Academy Awards have proven that they are more driven politically and financially usually rewarding the films which play to their rules (hence why Beasts of No Nation was completely omitted).

The performances are all worth mentioning as neither actor outshines the other yet all impressed me. Di Caprios performance is of course brilliant but also interesting as he does not speak for a good third of the film but instead takes on a more physical role. Tom Hardy does a great job of making you hate him for once by truly separating the actor from the character; I never thought I’d be rooting against Hardy. Domhnall Gleeson adds yet another feather to his cap in what was a fantastic year for him. Will Poulter and Forrest Goodluck deserve a lot of praise as both young actors turn in noteworthy performances.

The real star of the film though is Iñárritu who’s directing takes on a role of its own in the Revenant. Iñárritu shows his technical wizardry with incredible one-shots and tracking shots which draw you into the film , I found myself wincing and ducking out-of-the-way of arrows that’s how immersed I felt. The Revenant really needs to be experienced on the big screen as it one of the most immersive and visceral experience’s I’ve ever had and Iñárritu needs to be commended for that.

The Revenant is not without its flaws as it feels like a long film and a bit stretched out. This is an unusual personal complaint as the run time of a film never bothers me but some scenes linger a little too long. There’s a fair bit of symbolism and visual metaphors which I felt where a little out-of-place, I understand that Iñárritu wanted to add deeper meaning to Glass’s journey but it only took me out of the scenes.

The Revenant was definitely one of the best films of 2015 and made my top 10 list. If there is one key point to take away from this film is don’t mess with bears because they will mess you up, fucking bears.

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