Fresh off a Golden Globe win for best actor, Leonardo DiCaprio was rather stunning and committed to his portrayal of Hugh Glass. With an amazing direction from Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant may be getting DiCaprio and the rest of the cast a few more nods come Oscar time. With the nominations coming out today, let’s see what made The Revenant an incredible experience
It’s a wild frontier and the camera is not backing away in the slightest. The best thing that this film accomplishes by showing these brutal moments is refusing to turn away. If you’re squeamish, you are probably not going to enjoy the more graphic parts of The Revenant. The bear attack, piercing arrows, tending to deep gashes all serve to reinforce how harsh and destructive the frontier was. I never felt like it was too much though, it certainly could have been though.
The Revenant succeeds in transporting you back to 1823 for the entire film. Whether it’s the clothes, period specific wording, the harsh environment, or the way of life, it helps immerse us into a time period we are unfamiliar with. The wilderness is a common location in literature, and by extension cinema, but the American frontier is one we don’t see a lot of. Sure, we see the wild west all the time or early colonial exploration, but this region of the country (Originally, the story took place in Montana, Iñárritu used a mix of locations) hasn’t been explored a bunch in cinema. It takes some skill to recreate this period and attach us to it, and I would be interested to see Iñárritu tackle even more periods or styles.
Wow, Leo’s performance here stacks up well against Wolf Of Wall Street, Catch Me If You Can, you name it. His dialogue is fairly simple, but after the bear attack leaves his voice damaged, he has to communicate a lot of pain through grunts and moans. It can be a bit hard to believe that he survives the numerous trials and injuries sustained after the attack. However, since we are attached to Leo and because we believe in his survive or desire to live, we can stick with him even through the craziness.
Now, when I say someone is committed to the role, DiCaprio’s performance could be your example for years to come. He’s in some very awkward moments that could have backfired. It helps however, when the movie is solid overall. The bear attack could have been comical and it’s not; we feel like he’s going to die any second. His numerous escapes from Native American run-ins are all by the skin of his teeth. The various obstacles keep him on his toes and thus the audience has to be as well. In regards to the Oscars, DiCaprio will certainly get nominated, but he’s still going to face some stiff competition.
Probably his best performance this year and certainly a very interesting one for sure. Hardy’s portrayal as Fitzgerald was humorous at moments and frightening for many of them. The problem with Fitzgerald is that you may agree or sympathize with his rationale. Why carry a nearly dead man when they are being chased by Native Americans and also have to face the terrain, a deadly obstacle in itself? By making Fitzgerald human and not some villainous caricature, it makes it difficult to just out right hate him. Now, you will probably end up despising him in the end given everything he’s done. But seeing his character justify his actions is
Cinematography & the Alexa 65
Just as I got done saying that there’s no way digital will ever catch up with good ole 70MM , enter the Alexa 65. It doesn’t hurt that Iñárritu had better set pieces than Hateful Eight, but the fact remains, it captured the rich texture and depth that we would desire from traditional film formats. If we get more films to showcase the capability of this camera, we might have a new contender. I imagine the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki had a ball filming with this rig especially since they are counted as one of the first productions to use it the whole time.
Visually, it’s just a stunning movie with great glimpses of mountainsides and various locales. The forced perspective makes us feel like we are a character in the film. It may not be the single shot effect like we received in Birdman, but it certainly keeps you engaged. Many of the scenes are in one shot or with limited cuts so it creates a similar effect. The initial Native American attack is a great example of this. We see a few different shots, but most of it is centered on the fur traders being trapped in a small section of trees. Since we don’t pan around much as the attack starts, we can’t really tell where the arrows are pouring in from. It helps us have the same feeling of hopelessness and fear as those men.
There’s not much wrong with Revenant; it paces well even if the movie feels a bit long at moments. We get quality acting from DiCaprio and Hardy who have better interactions here than their last outing in Inception. Iñárritu is really getting into an amazing trajectory with his films and I love seeing his progression. The Oscar race is going to be tight, but for DiCaprio, he’ll get a pretty solid shake.
The Revenant: 8.5 out of 10