FILM REVIEW | THE REVENANT
By Brett Hutton
After seeing this film, combined with Birdman being my absolute favourite film of last year, I can say without hesitation that Alejandro González Iñárritu has fast-become one of my new, all-time favourite directors of recent memory. The man has talent, artistic integrity and isn’t afraid of Hollywood’s moneymen stomping on his vision. But enough gushing about the director, let’s get down to brass tacks.
The Revenant takes place during the midst of the Louisiana Purchase in 1823, where American frontiersman, French settlers and Native Americans co-exist, but some tribes are still antagonistic and openly attack fur trappers and hunters. Our protagonist is Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fur trapper and experienced scout, who helps guide Captain Andrew Henry and his crew’s expedition through unsettled territory for pelts. At their second camp, after recovering from a surprise attack from the Akiara tribe, Glass is attacked by a bear during a reconnaissance. He is later abandoned and must make a long, arduous journey back home, fuelled only by vengeance.
First and foremost, The Revenant is absolutely vicious. If you’re the squeamish type, all the blood, rendered flesh and broken bones will probably make you retch, but it’s with good cause. The visceral brutality displayed onscreen has a stark beauty to it as the violence perfectly illustrates the harsh environment and conflict between the frontiersman and natives during 18th century North America. And at the forefront is Glass, whose anguish, both mentally and physically, is so immersive that you will feel his pain and suffering. DiCaprio embodies a man who is in so much pain, yet pushes on regardless any obstacle, and is almost profound at times.
Besides DiCaprio himself, the other big star of the film is undoubtedly the cinematography. Once again, I can’t be thankful enough for the partnership Iñárritu has with Emmanuel Lubezki. Just like his preview work with Birdman, Lubezki’s camera is absurdly brilliant, breathtaking and absolute genius. His ability to bring life and emphasis to any given scene is amazing, and his efforts make every single shot an utter joy to see. Lubezki is the breath of fresh air that puts the cinema back in cinematography.
The Revenant is brutal, heartbreaking and fantastically immersive, I guarantee you will be actually shivering as you watch as Glass traipses through the frozen tundra, doing everything he can to stay warm. You feel his pain and his desperation, you want him to survive, and you want him to succeed, and you most certainly want to see him get his revenge.