Inarritu’s “The Revenant” Pits DiCaprio Against Mother-Nature

By Scott Kurland
Film: The Revenant
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, Will Poulter, and Forrest Goodluck
Rated R
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu

     Many people have been reaching out to me to ask why “The Revenant” was not on my top ten list for 2015. The questions go on and on forever: “Why isn’t it on your list?" Did you not like it?” “Is the press making a bigger deal then they should?”. There’s no film critic politics here. The  film's absence on my top ten list boils down to this one little truth: Boston wasn’t shown an earlier critic’s screen of “The Revenant” until last week. Now, let’s find out if the Oscar nominated film "The Revenant" is worthy of all the hype. Let’s do this thing shall we?

     “The Revenant” is inspired by the true story of Hugh Glass and his struggle to survive the unforgiving wild. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Glass, a mountain man, who helps his fellow fur trappers through the unsettled Louisiana purchase . Glass and his half-Caucasian-half-Pawnee son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) don’t seem to see eye-to-eye with one of the trappers, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who disagree’s with Glass’ choice of route. After Glass is attacked by a Grizzly bear Glass appears to be close to death. However, the Captain of the hunting party, Andrew Henry, (Domnhall Gleeson) guarantees Glass’ is to be cared for until the moment of his passing. Fitzgerald however, has another plan in mind. What follows is the extraordinary journey Glass takes to get revenge on the one man who stole his most valued possession; his son.

     “The Revenant” is one of the most ambitious films I’ve ever seen. The bear attack scene alone will make you question whether or not you should ever take a stroll through the woods again. And here I was thinking Inarritu was ambitious with his last film “Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”. Making that film seem like one long, continuous take was impressive to say the least. As much as I like “Birdman,” I loved “The Revenant.” Inarritu outdoes himself here. I had no idea that the bear attack was CGI, that’s how life like it is. I cringed during the entirety of that fight. 

     My one problem with the film is how bleak it is. There’s no underlying peace in this film. DiCaprio is doomed, Hardy is doomed, let’s face it, everyone in this film has a bullseye on their back. That said, Inarritu might pull off the impossible with “The Revenant.” There’s murmurs that he could steal Best Director and Picture away from “Spotlight”. I’ll wait to address this until my Oscar picks article, but I’ll say here that this film has all the makings of an Oscar winner. It’s got the period piece element going for it, followed by the award winning crew of Inarritu. A crew comprised of two- time Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and high at the top, you have Leonardo DiCaprio.  “The Revenant” is Oscar bait and we’ll see if it pulls it off February 28th.

     In my review for “Trumbo,” I said DiCaprio will have to be nothing short of excellent to beat Cranston. I believe DiCaprio will most definitely beat Cranston. After twenty years of nominations its highly likely that Leo will finally win. It’s a shame that it wasn’t in a Scorsese film, but when you see the pain and endurance DiCaprio goes through in "The Revenant", you’ll know it was done for something special. DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass has to go on a journey against the elements that makes the Book of Job look like the plot of a Dr. Seuss story. DiCaprio is even more impressive to me because I know he did at least 90% of his stunts; including the cliff jump you see in the trailers. I think this might be my favorite role of his. For the first time in his career, he’s at his most intense and vulnerable. Glass is a more reserved character for DiCaprio. He’s not a fast talker, he’s not ahead of the curve, he’s a survivalist who has hit rock bottom. DiCaprio has never been better in a film and he’s already cleaning up this award season.

    Aside from being visually stunning, the acting in "The Revenant" is also commendable . Everyone is raving about DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. For me, the most exciting performance is from Domnhall Gleeson. This really is his year. We saw him in “Ex Machina”, “Star Wars”, and “Brooklyn” already. But as Captain Henry, Gleeson shows range. He’s has to be the one character that represents good, because Hardy is evil and DiCaprio is redemption. Gleeson really has to carry the third act of this film and he succeeds in holding his ground. Hardy is getting all the nominations with his Jeff Bridges monotone voice, but it’s Gleeson you remember. 

     “The Revenant” is one of the best films I’ve ever seen about surviving in the wild. That being said, this film is definitely intense. This is not a movie you’ll watch over and over again, though it is a film everyone should see; even if it’s just to see Inarritu pull of the impossible once again. The cinematography is breathtaking to look at, and this might be Emmanuel Lubezki’s third consecutive Oscar. Do yourself a favor and avoid the January cinema slump by seeing “The Revenant”.

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