Thanks to 20th Century Fox, we had the chance to see The Revenant ahead of its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
Acclaimed director, Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel, Birdman) has done it again. Based on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel of the same title, The Revenant is an astonishing cinematic feat that will leave audiences spellbound with its haunting storyline, awe-inspiring cinematography, and first-class performances. In a casting masterstroke, Iñárritu chose Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead role of fur-trapper and frontiersman, Hugh Glass. Left for dead in the uncharted American wilderness at the height of a savage winter, Glass overcomes incredible odds to make his way back to his party. Equally impressive is Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald, a life-hardened, restless rogue. Wild-eyed and unpredictable, he brings a visceral brutishness to the film that complements DiCaprio’s ravaged resilience. Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, and Forrest Goodluck most notably round out the rest of the impressive international cast in their pivotal supporting roles. Connecting individuals from disparate cultures, the piece also examines the relationship between humans and nature. And there are numerous themes to be identified throughout: the enduring human spirit, loyalty, love, retribution, and, of course, survival in the face of immense adversity.
The notoriously difficult shoot reportedly resulted in the shedding of several crew members along the way – casualties of Iñárritu’s uncompromising vision and a punishing filming schedule which was also punctuated by bouts of inclement weather. It seems fitting that there was such a gruelling creative experience behind the scenes of this searing story of survival and revenge. Iñárritu’s insistence on the exclusive use of natural light placed additional pressure on his cast and crew. But, with seven Academy nominations under his belt, Mexican cinematographer, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, achieved what some believed to be impossible, particularly in terms of continuity. The masterful cinematography infuses the movie with a stark and beautiful realism. Bleak, harrowing and yet undeniably poetic, the film looks like a 19th-century frontier painting come to life. As the men trek across the unforgiving wilderness, we are treated to various natural panoramas: forests blanketed by snow, watercolour mountains, frothing rapids, and surging rivers. A superb score by Japanese musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto (performed by a 25-piece Berlin-based orchestra known as s t a r g a z e), further enhances this 156-minute long cinematic feast, the eventual budget of which apparently blew out to approximately $156 million.
Immersed in Glass’s almost wordless world, filmgoers will experience a relentlessly intense ride that will leave them transfixed until the highly satisfying conclusion. It remains to be seen whether DiCaprio will be snubbed once again by the Academy and whether Iñárritu can scoop Best Picture for the latest of his artistic triumphs. Either way, this is an outstanding, unforgettable film, and Hollywood’s most recent testament to the strength of the human will. Don’t miss it.
The Revenant – In Cinemas January 7