Cert : 15
Runtime: 156 mins
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Dohmhnall Gleeson
If DiCapiro does not win an Oscar for this performance, it’s difficult to imagine it ever happening for him.
The Revenant has a very simple plot line. Set in the freezing cold winter conditions of 1820’s North America, DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a trapper with a son from a relationship with a native Indian.
The film is based on a true account, but is much embellished. After being attacked by local Indians a group of trappers are fleeing for their lives when Glass gets mauled by a bear, his son is murdered and Glass is left for dead by the mercenary Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter), who unwittingly becomes the older man’s accomplice.
The whole movie is dedicated to the struggle of Glass to survive in the bleakest of conditions, those he meets on the journey and his burning desire for revenge for the death of his son. That really is the storyline, but of course the film is about so much more and is quite breathtaking in its delivery of the fight for survival and the depiction of the wilderness in which all of the drama takes place.
It is well documented that the cast struggled with what was required of them in sub zero temperatures, only shooting in natural light and the need to move the shoot to Argentina due to an unseasonally warm spell in North America. However, Iñárritu’s dedication to the task leaves the audience feeling the numbing cold as Glass is swept through icy rivers and is left shivering in freezing nights with his beard stiff with frost.
Perhaps the most striking moment is the bear attack itself, which is delivered in three long takes by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (who worked on The Birdman with Iñárritu). He delivers some sweeping tracking shots in this movie, making one feel quite literally in the action itself. This is particularly true of the moment Glass finds himself mauled, the attack feels as if it goes on for an age and when the breath of the bear fogs the lens the sense of lying there with Glass as he is ravaged by this huge beast is palpable.
DiCaprio, Hardy and Poulter are all excellent; Hardy’s depiction of the tough and uncompromising Fitzgerald, almost as driven as Glass but for different reasons is outstanding. However, it is DiCaprio’s performance that ultimately makes the movie and his dedication to his profession. He really did wear a full bear skin, which is heavy when dry but when soaked, as it often is in The Revenant, it weighs a great deal more and moving around in it requires stamina and a strong physique. DiCaprio also insisted on eating raw Bison liver during a scene where he finds a recent kill by wolves who are chased off. The hours spent in the cold or wading through freezing rivers pays off here and surely must do when the Oscars are announced later this month.
A wonderful film in so many ways that is most definitely best viewed on a big screen at the cinema, so don’t wait for the DVD go and see it whilst you can.
(Written by Howard Groves)