The Revenant (2016) – Viewed 17/01/2016

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Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk’o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur RedCloud, Christopher Rosamond, Robert Moloney, Lukas Haas

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: 15/R

Running Time: 156 Minutes

Once again an Oscars contender brings a cinematic experience which leaves you stunned, shocked and outright confused over how you feel about the film.

Destined for even more awards success this year, THE REVENANT, based on true events, follows the lives of a group of hunters on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s in the uncharted American wilderness, and captures the brutal and legendary survival tale of frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who, following the murder of his Indian wife, lives and fights to protect his son. Following an attack on his bivouac by Arikara Indians and a near fatal grizzly bear attack, Glass finds himself in a life threatening condition and gradually becoming a burden on his group who are trying to reach their base camp to escape the Arikara. After one of his caretakers, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) leaves him for dead, the story becomes one of survival but also of a painstaking and inspirational hunt across eighteenth century America for the man who snatched his life from him.

There are films which are made to thrill and excite from start to finish, such as the endless action blockbusters which over-populate our annual film schedules, but then there are those which challenge the mind of their viewer and celebrate the beauty of film and cinema in an almost indescribable way. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (BIRDMAN, BABEL) once again decides to appeal to the latter demographic of cinema-goers by providing us with a film which is unlike anything we have ever witnessed on screen before, and for the second year running, he has provided Hollywood with a breath-taking, jaw-dropping, directing masterpiece. He has single-handedly changed the game for this year’s Oscars season, and personally I think it would be criminal if he did not win “Best Director” for this film.

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He takes the viewer on a beautiful and intense journey through colonial America, giving a voice to America’s forefathers and tribes who have not had this scale of exposure before, and educates us in a brutally honest way, about their not so glorious history, which a lot of directors would shy away from. The sights and scenery you witness throughout this film are mind-blowing, and you walk away understanding why Iñárritu decided to use only natural daylight for this production and as a result create such a high-intensity schedule for his cast and crew to follow.

One thing is for sure, potential viewers who may want to see DiCaprio or Hardy put in very impressive yet miniscule (in terms of dialogue) performances, but are not too sure on the story of the concept of the film, please be aware that this is a very arty, slow-burning, visual and musical masterpiece. The film is less about endless adrenaline, like Hardy’s other Oscar nominated feature this year, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, but instead it is about celebrating the will, courage, sacrifice and the gruesome commitment to survive of a forgotten generation which helped shape the very landscape of America today!

Although some may feel that the dragged out coverage of the forests and mountains and the unhurried dialogue between characters throughout hinders the cinematic experience, personally, it kept me captivated from start to finish! I could not tear myself away from it. Suddenly I was in this world with them, fighting that bear with DiCaprio, cowering with Will Poulter’s (WE’RE THE MILLERS) character and hunting the deceiving and unforgivable John Fitzgerald with the rest of the group, whilst at the same time, eating my Maltesers of course!

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Now the biggest question still on my mind after this translucent spectacle of a film is; “Does Leonardo DiCaprio deserve the Oscar for “Best Actor” this year?” In all honesty, as much as it pains me to say this, I am not too sure. I most certainly preferred his performance ahead of the likes of Eddie Redmayne in THE DANISH GIRL, but I do not think it contends with the likes of Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Dalton Trumbo in next month’s TRUMBO which is a gem of a film! Still though, I would not necessarily complain if he did win the award because I think it is shameful that this man does not posess an Oscar yet.

On the other hand, Tom Hardy’s supporting performance in this film personally outshines his earlier performances in MAD MAX and LEGEND this year which were already ground-breaking. As always he is relentless in his performance and he personally has a shout for the most undersold villain of the year; a mind-blowing display from the Brit.

Overall, THE REVENANT is an unforgettable, single viewing masterpiece which will always be considered as a revolutionary film. I would compare its sheer impact it has on you with LINCOLN, and the emotional journey it takes you on as one very similar to the likes of GLADIATOR. It is a masterclass in directing from Alejandro G. Iñárritu who deserves at least half of the 12 Oscars this film is up for next February, it hosts an incredible cast, all of whom put in superb performances, and it is definitely something which needs to be appreciated on the big screen. It may be too sluggish and intense a watch for some and it is definitely not for the light-hearted. Make sure you are fully awake for this experience and be prepared to see some gruesome, mind-numbing scenes.

“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe… keep breathing.”

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Recommendation: Unlike THE DANISH GIRL, if you are a fan of intense and dramatic films, make sure you see this one at the cinema! You may well regret that you did not witness this masterpiece at the cinema come the summer!

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