“My Heart Bleeds, but revenge is in the creator’s hands.”
While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.
In moments of great pain, it is the human condition to seek great revenge. It is the impurity of the human soul, that forces our hand and pushes us in the direction of vengeance. That is what The Revenant is about. It is a starkly intense picture centering on the pain and suffering of great loss, and the fulfilling nature that the hunt for revenge may represent. Director Alejandro Inarritu has proved his worth as an artist time and again, and he spends much of The Revenant arrogantly reiterating just how special he truly is. The film is Inarritu’s by and by and makes sure the audience is fully aware of his presence. It plays to it’s strengths and does not shy away from its motives at any point. This is meant to be bait for awards considerations and it plays as such. The Revenant is ultimately a beautifully vivid sensory piece of revenge filth.
The story is so simple, and yet it’s simplicity is what drives the film into the forefront. With Inarritu’s Birdman, we were given a wealth of emotions, and an extraordinary number of moving parts, all having to cohesively balance on screen. The Revenant is near neanderthal in it’s basic motivations. It is the story of a man who, felled by great tragedy and betrayal, is seeking vengeance in the name of his son. The story is so directly simplistic, it opens up the empty space for performances and more importantly to its helmer, it’s direction. Inarritu is the film’s star, though he receives no screen time, but nevertheless, this is his picture, in all it’s aggressive virility. There is no way to discount the beauty that lies at the core of this film. It is one of the most horrifyingly gorgeous cinematic experiences of the year, and perhaps of the decade. Opening with a moment of serene tranquility, The Revenant wastes little time diving into the harsh reality the characters are faced with at every turn. Life for a frontiersman is barely a life, and it is indelibly displayed in all its savagery.
There is mystic gravitas surrounding Inarritu and his film. With the use of steadicam panning to make the film feel personal and at times even claustrophobic, in spite of it’s vast and nearly endless landscape he shrinks the films scale to tease the conflict raging in his characters. The staple cinematic centerpiece of the film is the bear attack scene. Unflinchingly animalistic, and equally captivating, this 10 minute scene feels like a lifetime to viewers. Its some of the most intense filmmaking, delivering some of the most devastating images of complete savagery we will likely ever see. Not one second of this scene is even remotely gratuitous, and it feels necessary to truly imbibe the tone.
The Revenant is nothing without its performances. The cast is mesmerizing, and what’s most impressive is the ability to convey and emote, with such limited dialogue. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in a potentially career defining performance. Doing more with a stare and an intense grimace than most actors can with an entire page of stingy dialogue, Leo is at the top of his game here and it is his performance that centers the film. Tom Hardy, opposite Leo, is the antagonist that allows the film to run wild. He becomes the motivation for our lead, and Hardy steps into the role with an aggressive intensity that perfectly juxtaposes DiCaprio’s more subdued quiet intensity. The rest of the cast is stellar and permeates the hell that these characters must have gone through with classic charismatic grace. The Revenant provides a vehicle for it’s cast to chew on some heavy handed content.
A smorgasbord of sublimity, The Revenant is a lesson in primal direction at it’s finest. Alejandro Inarritu masterfully commands control of his sets, utilizing practical effects and natural lighting to provide a grit unlike anything we have seen on screen in quite some time. Leonardo DiCaprio provides a similarly primal performance that stripped of all possession. is driven by mad vengeance. This one of the most epically beautiful films of 2015. Inarritu climbed into the forest, and against all conventional wisdom, shot a film utilizing almost all natural light, in chronological order, in the dead of winter, and he emerged from the tundra with a piece of art the likes of something not seen before. Becoming the definition of resilient, Inarritu and DiCaprio deliver a raw yet captivating drama that far exceeds the man vs nature premise that sits at it’s foundation. The Revenant is the height of beauty, executed brilliantly by a crazed man driven to deliver only the finest of art to his audience.
4.45/5 EPIC BRO