The Revenant, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu is a film that is small in concept but more than grand in scale. Much of what makes Inarritu such a celebrated director is apparent in this film. The way in which he utilises the camera, how he drops you deep within the scene and leaves you to squirm. The Revenant from every technical aspect is incredible. However I can see this film very much dividing audiences. With its long drawn out segments of silence and seeming lack of progression will certainly make it difficult for some film goers to be kept engaged. Either way The Revenant deserves to be talked about, whichever side of the fence you come down on – so let’s get to it.
In The Revenant we follow the story of Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio who is tasked with leading a group of men back through the inhospitable, snowy lands and back to safety. Things of course take a turn when Glass is savagely attacked by a bear and left for dead. On the brink of death the men he was leading now must decide whether or not to leave him or drag him all the way back with them. Things only complicate further when Glass is left in the care of John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy – a man who soon abandons Glass, murders his son and returns home. Hugh Glass then sets out on the impossible journey to heal up, find Fitzgerald and get his revenge.
The Revenant is undeniably a beautiful film. Alejandro Inarritu’s decision to use only natural lighting for every shot means you get a film that looks unlike anything else. I was constantly taken a back but just how incredible the film was to look at. Sweeping snowy vistas, endless sky and an unrelenting brutality meant that The Revenant might be one of the best looking films in some time. Now it’s been well known that this film was marred with problems – Inarritu deciding to shoot the film like he did meant that anyone working on the film would have a very difficult job ahead of them. What I’ll say is that well done to all to saw this film through to the end because the hard work that they did, more than payed off. Each and every frame of The Revenant could be a piece of art that you could stare at for some time.
Along with the beauty of the film is the technical brilliance of it. Once again Inarritu chose to have his film enriched with some unforgettably engaging single shot takes. The opening of the in particular has a one shot battle that simply blew me away. What’s so great about Inarritu use of the one shot is how is brings you deeper into the film. All the chaos and the beauty are going on around you and you are left in it to watch. Inarritu also will put you uncomfortably close to the happenings of the film. Seeing a man have an arrow breach his head and then continue to rest on that shot for just a little longer than usual or watching as our main character Hugh Glass is torn apart by a bear, and never once having the camera cut away or move to a wider shot means you are in it till the brutal, bloody end. It’s great, it’s involving and it makes for some truly brilliant film making.
Now perhaps one of the most talked about aspects of The Revenant is its lead actor and if this is finally the time in which he will win the best actor Oscar. After watching this film I’m confident in saying that he more than deserves to win it. Not only does he have no other reasonable competition in the category but DiCaprio went above and beyond in this film. Though his character says very little when dialogue is considered, he certainly says a lot with his actions. DiCaprio certainly went all out in this film and all that’s left to say is to just give him the damn Oscar already!
Alongside DiCaprio is another great performance by Tom Hardy. Even though he has another accent that is at times hard to understand, this is an actor who brings it every time he’s on the screen. Perhaps my only real complaint would be that I just wanted more of his character. The film hints at a really interesting person but barely gives anything tangible. This is a complaint that I think will begin to bleed into other aspects of the film and my review as we go on.
The Revenant is a film that is filled with many great performances but once again the actor who misses the mark entirely for me is Domhnall Gleeson. I don’t like to be cruel in my reviews but this is the fourth or fifth film in a row for Domhnall Gleeson where he delivers something sub-par, especially when you compare him to other actors and their performances. Let’s maybe in 2016 give his roles to someone else, someone who won’t completely be off tone with everyone else in the film. Sorry, rant over.
So now I get to the point which I think is the aspect of the film that will make The Revenant a struggle for a lot of cinema goers. This is a film that is paced very slowly, and I mean slowly. I’m a person who loves a slow, engaging film that dives deep into its characters and its story but even I was noticing some lulls in proceedings. What I think is the problem in The Revenant is that – like I said earlier – the film is small in concept but grand in scale. That small in concept part means you get a film that is sorely lacking in some good old fashioned development and exploration. This is a revenge story and The Revenant stays super glued to that structure of story. In fact it does it so vehemently that it doesn’t give time for anything else, even though it more than has the run time to do so.
I really would have loved more insight into just who exactly these people are, especially Tom Hardy’s character. The Revenant is a film that is almost unwilling to cut of even the tiniest slice of cake and share it with you, instead hiding it all and distracting you with something else. It’s a shame because the film didn’t have to give that much, just a little bit more and it would have been enough.
Now don’t get me wrong despite The Revenant lacking in its fuller development I still enjoyed my time with it. This film is undoubtedly brilliant when the art of film making is considered. I think once Alejandro G. Inarritu has delivered something different and most definitely worth seeing.
So yes I will be recommending The Revenant. In no way is this a perfect film, in fact this is a film with glaring issues. But I still think it more than makes up for its problems with some fantastic film making from Alejandro G. Inarritu.
I’d love to know what you thought of Inarritu’s The Revenant so sound off in the comments down below. If you want to keep up with the rest of my reviews then follow me on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. Last but not least have a great week.