Based on true events, The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s recent masterpiece. DiCaprio plays fur trapper Hugh Glass, a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s along with his son and a dozen hunters. He fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Having swept up this year’s Golden Globe awards, I knew I was up for something when I walked into The Revenant. I had been looking forward to the film since the trailer was released in July, and of course because of its director and cast. In The Revenant, Inarritu scores big with an impressive, breathtaking scale that must be experienced on the big screen. The Revenant is not only a work of art, but is also a beautiful, although gory, experience of cinema. Inarritu tries his best here to work in the key of Terrence Malick, and in ways this movie does feel like an anti-thesis to The Tree of Life; instead of showing you the joy of life with Malick’s style of visual storytelling, Inarritu uses this style to show strong, gruesome violence and death, and uses silence here perfectly to depict the film’s natural setting as realistically as possible.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who has proven to be one of the best cinematographers in contemporary Hollywood with films like Gravity and Birdman, demonstrates what may be his best work with this movie. Like every other film he’s shot, he tries to keep as many little takes as possible, and it pays off very well here, adding to the intensity the film delivers, as well as the beauty (and danger) of the setting our hero is pit against. Speaking of our hero, Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a marvelous and excellent performance here. Lubezki’s camera is pointed at him for almost the entire film, and DiCaprio transforms into his character both physically and mentally, with little dialogue and lots of action. His performance feels so realistic, and I was shocked to find out that he actually did all the unbelievable things his character did to survive in the film, like eating raw fish and sleeping inside a horse’s carcass. Is his performance worth all the awards buzz he’s getting? I would definitely say yes to that, as his performance is so riveting and unbelievable, I would love for this to be his long-awaited Oscar-winning performance. Tom Hardy is also great in his villainous supporting role; he felt very threatening and was developed very well.
What helps make this movie so real and breathtaking is its use of practical silence to show you the realism of the setting, like I said before. Even the quietest moments in the movie can be breathtaking. The sound is used so well that it adds such a great effect to the frightening realism of the movie. We are pulled into the vastness of nature as our protagonist advances through his journey. Every scene feels special in it’s own way, from the 10-minute opening battle which feels like the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan, and an intense scene with a bear that feels like an achievement in action filmmaking. With a relatively long runtime and flawless filmmaking, Inarritu brings this adventure to life in the most realistic way.
If there is one movie you should see from 2015, it’s The Revenant. The Revenant is not only one of the best filmed movies of the year, but also of the decade. Although incredibly graphic and not for young viewers, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, ideally 15 and up, that is searching for the perfect Oscar-worthy film of the year. The experience is ideal on the big screen, so please go see this movie in theaters as soon as you can.