Well, the Oscar noms are out (well, have been for a bit – sorry I haven’t been around), and The Revenant has swept the charts. Admittedly, I’m not one to rush out and try to see all the nominated films before the big event, but regardless of the buzz, this was definitely on my list.
So, does DiCaprio scream, cry and drool enough for that Oscar?
A few things to get out of the way: yes, this is inspired by a book by the same title – I have not read this book, so I will pretend it does not exist. Likewise with the Richard Harris film also inspired by said book. No comparisons will be made, and there are no previous biases – even though I am a sucker for Iñárritu’s style. And Tom Hardy – but that’s besides the point.
The Revenant is a story of trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), and an expedition that goes terribly, terribly wrong; after a brutal grizzly attack, Glass is left for dead after witnessing fellow trapper, John Fitzgerald (Hardy), murdering his son. Struck with grief and rage, Glass finds the will to survive the wilderness and seek his revengeance.
Survivalist stories are often meant to display the determination of man against the elements, often while displaying the internal journey of said man finding meaning and purpose set against the wild.
What makes The Revenant stand out is not only is one of the most ferociously realistic portrayals of wilderness, but thanks to the haunting use of sound and space, as a viewer you feel completely vulnerable. The Revenant is two-and-a-half hours of sheer brutality, as we witness a man struggle against every kind of conflict.
It’s not all gore and manly men. Well, okay, most of it is. However, betwixt the utter savagery, Iñárritu captures Glass’ internal journey beautifully.
What is also worth mentioning is despite Fitzgerald’s seemingly villainous actions, he’s not exactly a villain. In fact, there is really no black and white in terms of morality in this film (except for those Frenchmen), it’s just 1800s dog-eat-dog survivalism – constantly reminding you that nature is scary and does not care about your feelings.
In all, The Revenant is not an easy watch, but it is certainly unforgettable.
Final Grade: A