Based on a remarkable true story, The Revenant follows frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass as he seeks revenge against the man who killed his son and left him for dead after being attacked and nearly killed by a grizzly bear. What follows is two hours of cinematic genius.
To put it succinctly, The Revenant has earned every nomination and award it holds. This film embodies the idea of immersive cinema. The decisions to film using all-natural light, and the implementation of the long takes Alejandro Iñárritu has become famous for, mean the audience is placed into the heart of the story. Without wishing to spoil anything, the sequence with the bear is a perfect illustration of the immersive, sometimes harrowing, nature of the long take. From beginning to end, you feel present and helpless in the face of danger. This is true of the fight sequences and of the environment more generally. The camera never leaves the action, to the point where breath fogs up the lens of cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki.
This movie portrays the winter beautifully, or rather supremely realistically. Lubezki may just be the finest cinematographer working today, and The Revenant is a masterful exposition as to why. Every frame was a work of art and the muted colours fit the tone of the film perfectly. The fact it was done without additional lighting is nothing short of astounding.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Glass perfectly portrays a man hell-bent on survival and revenge, delivering a phenomenal, animalistic, and extremely physical performance. Hardy also gives an incredible performance as John Fitzgerald, the primary antagonist of the film, who inhabits Iago levels of villainy. Domhnall Gleeson and a surprising Will Poulter are also outstanding, providing the audience with a middle ground between the insanity of Hardy and DiCaprio.
This is not a film for the light hearted. With a running time of two hours and thirty six minutes, a level of commitment is necessary, but the rewards are nothing short of magnificent. If five stars wasn’t the maximum, I would happily give The Revenant more. I urge you to see this film.
Image: Day Donaldson; Flickr.com