Monday, January 11, 2016
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio,
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Written by Mark L. Smith, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Based in part on the novel by Michael Punke
Runtime 156 minutes
At a time when it seems like most movies require superheroes and pre-existing merchandise tie-ins for a whole lot of computer effects and hardly any story, The Revenant is a breath of fresh filmmaking air. On the downside, one way to look at it is that The Revenant is a movie about guys in pain. For people who aren’t guys, such things might not be that interesting. But for the rest of us, it’s great.
The title word means “a person who returns.”
The Revenant is a story about survival, and revenge. We don’t know exactly what year it is, or exactly where the events take place. Somewhere in what is now the U.S.-Canadian Northeast wilderness about a couple hundred years ago.
Upshot: An Indian raid on a company of trappers sends the survivors fleeing for their lives downriver. One of these men, Fitzgerald (Hardy), resents the decisions of their scout, Glass (DiCaprio). After the scout is mauled by a bear, events occur which show each man’s character, to put it rather broadly.
Much of the mauling makes the trailer, so that’s not giving anything away that the filmmakers haven’t already put out in advance. Just the mauling alone is an incredible contribution to film. You can’t believe it’s computer, and you can’t believe it’s a real bear. Either way is mind-boggling because it looks so completely authentic.
One of the things that makes this movie look so different and feel so real is a marked lack of cuts. Like at the start of Gravity, most of Birdman, or during the end sequence of Children of Men. No cuts. Just a smooth, omniscient vision.
It’s not a talk-heavy movie, although a lot gets said. The most interesting character to hear is the aforementioned Fitzgerald. Just as stunning as the scene with the bear—and the cinematography throughout—is Tom Hardy’s performance. This guy’s right up there with the best of all time. Initially he’s unrecognizable. You can’t believe the guy’s from England, he talks such pure-bred hick so good.
All movies are better on the big screen, but this one in particular lends itself to that experience. The icy forest mountain survival experience. It’s certainly not a major upper of a movie, and not appropriate for younger viewers, either. But it’s sure enough an instant classic. The kind of movie you think about for days after watching. The kind that, even after two and a half hours, if you had the time and the money, you wouldn’t mind turning right back around like a veritable revenant and watching it again.
Stewart Kirby writes for