If you think you’ve had a bad day at work then go watch The Revenant and then see if you think you should complain about the office air conditioning. Based on true events, the film follows frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass’ quest for survival and revenge in the bleak and desolate landscape of Montana and South Dakota in 1823. Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu brings us possibly the most beautifully shot film we’ve seen in a long time.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the protagonist, who is out for revenge after he is left for dead by his fellow hunters; hence, the title The Revenant which is derived from the Latin word for returning. Anyway, after a bear related mishap and the sort of work colleague that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, Glass’ luck really runs out when he is literally buried alive. However, he’s not going down without a fight as he wishes to reap his vengeful wrath. His survival in the harsh environment and confrontations with evil French kidnappers and hostile natives makes Bear Grylls look like a Kardashian. Believe me, this film is not for the faint-hearted.
DiCaprio delivers another Oscar-worthy performance in his long overdue quest for that elusive golden statue. Tom Hardy is ever so perfectly evil as John Fitzgerald, and Will Poulter carries a decent amount of emotional weight as the young Bridger. Donell Gleeson continues his outstanding recent run of performances, and I think I might have a little man crush on this ginger ninja of acting.
A lot has been said about the extreme nature of the shoot for the actors but one of the shining stars of the film is the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki with Iñárritu insistence in using only natural light. The scenery is both beautiful and terrifying in its bleakness. We are taken on this journey with Glass in a way that makes you feel his every wince while rooting for his survival under the seemingly ridiculously impossible terrain.
The Revenant is pure method filmmaking, Iñárritu said of avoiding the use of CGI, “If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.” The brutal conditions reportedly resulted in numerous crew members quitting after intense filming that took them to the wilderness of 12 different locations across three different countries. After putting the cast and crew through hell, this extreme Dances with Wolves epic will take you into the ice cold depths of the Missouri river and beyond. Defiantly worth a watch but those with a fear of camping may find it too much.
Man vs Bear vs Snow vs Man.
Reviewed by Ian Wright.