US Release Date: 12-25-2015
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Leonardo DiCaprio, as
- Hugh Glass
- Tom Hardy, as
- John Fitzgerald
- Domhnall Gleeson, as
- Captain Andrew Henry
- Will Poulter, as
- Forrest Goodluck, as
- Paul Anderson, as
- Kristoffer Joner, as
- Joshua Burge, as
- Stubby Bill
- Duane Howard, as
- Elk Dog
- Melaw Nakehk'o, as
- Fabrice Adde, as
- Arthur RedCloud, as
- Christopher Rosamond, as
- Robert Moloney, as
- Dave Stomach Wound
- Lukas Haas, as
- Brendan Fletcher, as
- Tyson Wood, as
- McCaleb Burnett as
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
Just as he did with last year's Birdman, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has created the most uniquely filmed movie of the year. He was aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who is on quite a roll, winning the Oscar for Cinematography the past two years in a row for Birdman and Gravity and should walk away with it again this year as well. Filmed in chronological order over 80 days, using only natural light, in remote locations in Canada, the United States, and Argentina, the result is breathtaking. The camera is constantly in motion, weaving in and out of the action intimately, and capturing the sweeping, majestic landscapes. Visually, this movie is flawless, but it's not without other problems.
The events in the film are loosely based on an incident in the life of mountain man High Glass, played here by Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1823, although the movie never specifies the year, Glass is working with his son as a scout with a trapping expedition in present-day South Dakota. Following an attack by Indians, the group sets off cross-country to return to a nearby fort. After Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear, he is abandoned for dead by two of his fellow trappers played by Tom Hardy and Will Poulter after they take the one thing that matters to him. The rest of the movie is a long arduous trek as Glass crawls his way, literally, out of his grave and through snow, through blizzards, down mountains, across rivers, fleeing from Indians, and facing off against French trappers.
While the movie starts excitingly and is filmed brilliantly, the horror that Glass goes through is relentless and remorseless. It goes beyond even the events that the real Glass went through and far beyond the needs of the story. By the time DiCaprio is sliding his naked ass into the corpse of a dead horse to keep from freezing it starts to feel like torture porn. Glass's will to live is based on the thirst for revenge (although for the record, the real Glass didn't kill either of the two men who abandoned him), but the final confrontation is brief in comparison to his journey to get it. And while Glass's fever induced dreams are beautifully filmed, they too eventually just slow down the story, as do the artistic shots of the landscape.
DiCaprio is alone on the screen for a majority of the movie. It's an intense physical performance and DiCaprio buries himself in the part. In his fur skins, covered in festering wounds, with a scraggly beard and long ragged hair, he's a long way from his boyish pretty boy of Titanic and Romeo and Juliet. By the end of the film, when he's fighting hand-to-hand with Tom Hardy, he's more animal than man. He's been nominated for a Best Actor four times previously and this could easily be his fifth, which is even more impressive considering that it's for a performance with a minimal of dialogue.
As good as the performances are though, this movie belongs to the director and cinematographer. Visually, this is a masterpiece and it deserves to be seen on as big of a screen as possible, just beware of the butt bustingly long running time.
Forrest Goodluck in The Revenant.
The Revenant takes the viewer on a visceral journey. You are right there trudging through the drifting snow alongside Leo, enduring the freezing cold and battling the elements. The natural light takes getting used to but it really adds to the realistic look of the movie. I agree with all the praise Scott heaped on the visual style. The cinematography is indeed breathtaking – and the musical score adds to the atmosphere as well.
I likewise concur about the performances, all of which are of the highest level. Besides DiCaprio, both Will Poulter (as real-life mountain man Jim Bridger) and Forrest Goodluck (as Hawk, Glass's son) are terrific in their roles. Tom Hardy matches Leo's intensity. The final battle between them is two wild, wounded beasts in a death match. Sorry Kylo Ren but John Fitzgerald is the vilest screen villain of 2015.
Now here's where I disagree with my brother. On paper the plot is slim but the story never feels insignificant or slight. On the contrary it's an epic odyssey of survival and revenge, with the emphasis more on the survival than the revenge. I never felt like I was watching torture porn. Yes Glass goes through hell (the bear mauling scene is pretty disgusting) but in the context of the story it never feels forced or too much. I referenced Star Wars earlier and I'll do so again. Glass crawling inside a dead horse to stay warm is no darker than Han Solo putting Luke Skywalker inside a dead tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back.
The Revenant is the best movie of 2015 and should absolutely be a major player at the Oscars.
Tom Hardy in The Revenant
I am completely with Patrick on this one. Revenge certainly plays a part in the film in different ways. Glass wants revenge on Fitzgerald. The Indian Chief wants revenge for the abduction of his daughter. She gets revenge, in a very grotesque manner, on one of her kidnappers.Still, this is first and foremost a story of survival.
Revenant means a return from the dead or the ghost of someone who passed away showing up. Glass was left for dead but his sheer determination, fortitude, and good luck, kept him alive and going. He knows how to survive in the wilderness, so I must add know how to the list of reasons he makes it
My brothers mentioned the gorgeous winter wilderness scenery and the amazing cinematography. I felt cold just watching this and cringed every time one of the actors stepped into a river. The decision to only use natural lighting was an inspiring one. I felt like I was there. Like I was an invisible spirit taking this journey along side Glass.
I also enjoyed the symbolism. Although technically Glass never died, he came extremely close and was left for dead. As he states, "I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already." The scene with the horse is his new beginning. He exits the bloody crevice naked as the day he was born.
Patrick noted that Tom Hardy matches Dicaprio's intensity while I think he topped it. Fitzgerald is a man alone in the world. He only has himself and cares little for what happens to others. We hear of his plans after he makes his money in pelts. We hear of his past and how he came to have that disgusting scar. Hardy mumbles his lines and carries himself in a way that makes you always question his next move. He brought Fitzgerald to life in ways that DiCaprio never does for Glass. We get glimpses of Glass' past and we see his stalwart march toward the light but he never becomes anything but a man on a mission to live and seek revenge. By the time this two and a half hour movie has ended we still have truly not learned much about Glass.
Although The Revenant is a film with some considerable length, there is always something of interest happening on screen, punctuated by bursts of violence and excitement. This is easily the most entertaining of this year's award worthy movies.
Photos © Copyright 20th Century Fox (2015)