Words by Ryan Grice
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Michael Punke (Novel)
Cast: Leonardo di Caprio, Tom Hardy and Domhnall
Synopsis: 19th century frontiersman, Hugh Glass, is separated from his fellow fur-traders after being mauled by a bear and left for dead, and must subsequently navigate his way back to camp without being scalped by the natives or cooked like a frog by the rivalling French.
THE Revenant is like fellatio with teeth; it feels incredible and has you sitting on the edge of the bed for the duration. Uh, seat. No, bed…
After “Iñárritu’s’ ambitious efforts in Birdman last year, expectations were understandably running pretty high for his next film. Not only does he deliver, he far exceeds any and all hopes held by audiences and critics alike. This movie is beautiful, thought-provoking, and tragically dark.
His original plan to film Birdman (2015) as one continuous shot that lead to the unique style that mimicked that aesthetic perfectly, is expanded on greatly in The Revenant in a way that one could never have imagined possible. The film was also shot using 100% natural light, and it shows. An effective process that caused shooting to last 9 months (the remote locations only allowed for a handful of shooting hours in a day), and one can’t help but reminisce of days of the great Stanley Kubrick. The use of ARRI’s new 6.5k Alexa 65 camera probably helped too. Without an attempt to spoil anything, what will doubtless be forever referred to as ‘The bear scene’ is a stand-out example of a director being able to cover so many aspects of film-making in a single sequence.
The performances in the film are such that anything is almost better left unsaid, especially given the hype surrounding them has seemingly surpassed that of the movie itself. To comment in any way would be irresponsible, idiotic even. Leo mirrors Tom Hardy’s performance in a number of other films in that his role is almost entirely physical, himself stating that it felt “…like a silent movie performance”, but does a terrific job despite this. Tom Hardy is like his overly vocal, malicious counterpart, sporting some impressive head scars due to having been half-scalped by a native. He has a way of negating the need for suspension of disbelief and allows the viewer to not just see, but truly embrace him as each unique character he plays, and this outing is no exception.
How “Iñárritu’ managed to convince the Japanese music god Ryuichi Sakamoto to lay down the insanely impressive score, having just survived cancer and having not worked on a Western film in almost twenty years, is a grand mystery. The delicate composition is ever-present and allows the story and landscape to both crescendo and retreat at every necessary moment. The list of minute details worth mentioning regarding this film is long, but watching will be infinitely more satisfying and educational than any catalog presented in text.
From the calm and chaos of the opening scene until the very last, “Iñárritu’ weaves a visual narrative that never loses your attention, and will truly inspire your orbitofrontal cortex and leave you wanting to both watch his back catalogue repeatedly, and become a film-maker yourself. And now to answer the big question in advance; “Will Leo get the Oscar?”
Sadly, the answer is no, Tom Hardy is just too damn good.
MM 9/10 OR Don’t even think about putting you hand in my pants while I’m watching this.
Watch the official trailer below: