Latest Review – The Revenant [Twentieth Century Fox]


Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

UK Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Genre: Adventure | Biography | Drama • Year: 2015 • Country: United States • Running Time: 156 minutes • Certificate: 15 • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 • Image: Colour • Language: English | French | Native American

With a grand total of twelve nominations, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest feature leads the way going into this year’s Academy Awards ceremony – with runaway action hit Mad Max: Fury Road a close second with ten nominations – though as well deserved as the nominations may however be, the competition is strong, and I can’t quite see the film winning in many of its nominated categories.

Adapted from Michael Punke’s 2002 biography The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, the film depicts the real-life experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass following a near-fatal bear attack in the frozen Montana and South Dakota of 1823.

There is no denying that this is a visually stunning piece of cinema, with Iñárritu’s go to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki beautifully capturing the vast landscape of the various filming locations (most notably British Columbia and Alberta, Canada) with his trademark flair. However, Iñárritu chooses to shoot the majority of the film from a low angle, i.e. looking up at the subject, which does begin to feel a little confusing as it’s not always clear what he is trying to achieve. The perspective works well for the early establishing scenes, but after that it seems a little out of place. The soundscape is equally impressive, predominantly featuring the natural ambience of the setting, though sound editing wise there are a couple of synchronisation issues which stand out and a few over dubs which are just a little too obvious.

Of the countless nominations and awards the film has received so far, there have only been a couple which have acknowledged the adapted screenplay, which of course does say quite a lot. Though I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the negativity towards the screenplay, it cannot be denied that the film is rather thin on substance, and it is ultimately a rather basic revenge tale, wrapped in a blanket of breathtaking visuals and driven by standout performances.

Di Caprio’s performance is purely physical and almost mute, with only a mere few lines of actual spoken dialogue at the bookends of the film. That said, it is nevertheless a very visceral and compelling performance and one which fully deserves the acclaim and attention it has attracted thus far. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether this will be ‘Leo’s year’ at the OSCARS, and on the strength of his sheer commitment to a virtuoso role, not to mention the months of physical exertion he underwent, I really can’t see this not being the case. After all, if Jean Dujardin can win the Best Actor Academy Award for his genuinely silent (and entirely physical) turn in The Artist then there is no reason whatsoever why Leo shouldn’t take home the big prize on the night. Tom Hardy offers excellent support as the villainous trapper, John Fitzgerald (a very well deserved OSCAR nomination), and there are equally impressive turns from Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson.

At 156 minutes the film is a little over-long and unfortunately it does just begin to feel it. Though far from boring, there is a lot of padding which could do with trimming off the edges to take things down to a much more comfortable two-hour mark. Nevertheless, The Revenant proves an absorbing, visceral and uncompromising tale of survival, revenge and human endurance, infused with copious amount of graphic violence and a searing central perfomance beating at its core.

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