By Adam Ray Palmer
Today comes the review of the Oscar and Bafta-nominated, Golden Globe award-winning film The Revenant.
This film has already cleared up the ‘big three’ at the Globes for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Director’ with it being nominated in the same trio at every other award ceremony.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the Oscar-Winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s gruelling feature as the titular character Hugh Glass. British talents Tom Hardy and Will Poulter are on hand in supportive roles. Leo and the movie itself look nailed on for Oscar glory but is the film worthy of the potential victories or is it just because DiCaprio is long overdue? We will tell you…
Leonardo DiCaprio’s expert tracker and marksman, Hugh Glass, is mauled by a bear and left for dead by his comrades, not least the treacherous, flea-bitten John Fitzgerald (an almost unrecognisable Tom Hardy). Hauling himself across the icy north-western wilderness, Glass miraculously survives his injuries and resolves to find the man who left him behind.
Even though most of the film is about Leo’s revenge quest, it’s also a metaphor for how to never give up for what you strive for. Hugh Glass is physically and mentally tortured throughout but not once does his ambition waiver. The ghastly scenes that Leo had to endure for this role are mind-boggling. In one stomach-churching scene, the real-life vegetarian eats a bison's liver because the role demands that commitment. The Revenant is definitely not a journey for the faint of heart.
There is something different about Leo in this picture. He feels more mature and distinguished as an actor. It feels like he studied very hard for this role to deliver perfection, and he certainly came close. He puts his body through hell for his art but it is certainly worth it. The crew could only film for 15 minutes a day for weeks on end with gruelling travelling schedules so the team obviously meant business with this epic.
The supporting cast also gave it their all. The trio of Tom Hardy (Fitzgerald, Glass’ enemy), Will Poulter and the mighty Domhnall Gleeson put in tremendous shifts. Hardy is a scarred, unstable sociopathic with dreams of buying some land in Texas and nothing will get in his way. Poulter is understated and fragile. He is the perfect coupling to the rough Fitzgerald. Gleeson is an unsung hero. I think he is a scene-stealer in nearly all of his sequences. He has had a fantastic 12 months.
One man who has had an even better year is the director Alejandro Iñárritu. 11 months ago, he won the biggest prize in film for Birdman – an Academy Award for ‘Best Director’. Now, with a month to go until the next Oscars ceremony, he is surely staring another victory in the face. With The Revenant, he makes a bit of mythology look like a mystical survival thriller. We saw with Birdman that he can tell a simple story in extraordinary ways.
We know for a fact Alejandro loves his single flowing takes as his last two movies demonstrate this. These scenes truly add a special cinematic experience that you have to see on the big screen to fully appreciate. The Revenant is a masterful piece of cinema that just twists and pulls you along the way. I had chills throughout like I was on a camping trip with Leo.
Inarritu’s handheld camera is in full movie mode here as he uses it for every battle, tense and emotional scene. I am a huge fan of the handheld camera usage because it makes you feel like you are part of the film. This isn’t the only cinema style in operation, he also uses sweeping establishing shots of the snowy, earthy forests and the vast, icy landscapes. The best scene where these two camera arts are used is a battle sequence at the opening of the film. The camera lens shifting back and forth with arrows and guns firing off left, right and centre. The camera is in the midst of the action as it swirls round the battle field. At one point, a fight flows seamlessly to a warrior on horseback, who in turn is shot by an enemy, who in turn is hit by a flying axe – perfection. Alejandro is able to showcase these striking sequences aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman). The visuals in this film are stunning.
Along with the haunting score, The Revenant depicts a world that feels as much post-apocalypse as it does a moment of the past. As a whole, The Revenant is difficult to shake. It’s a long, brutal, and at times difficult to watch. The Revenant won’t be liked by everyone but it will at least be admired; it’s technically impressive and crammed with breath-taking cinematography. It puts DiCaprio through physical and emotional turmoil and asks the audience to saddle up alongside his suffering too. Strangely though, I was more than willing to do that. The sheer beauty of this film warrants the brutal journey we must endure to get the full effect of a masterful cinema experience.
Cineroom’s Rating: 5 Stars
The Revenant was released worldwide on Friday 15th January – certificate 15