Friday, January 8, 2016

The Revenant

Writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu offers a straightforward tale of survival and revenge based on the true experiences of a frontiersman left for dead in 1823 in South Dakota. Bleak may not be a strong enough word for the film's tone, but Leonardo DiCaprio makes it work as fur trapper Hugh Glass who struggles to survive after being attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by a member (Tom Hardy) of the group who had sworn to look after the wounded man.

The Revenant is the type of movie you are more likely to appreciate than enjoy, and I don't see myself returning to the film any time soon. That said, Iñárritu unquestionably delivers a stunning film of personal survival that is completely engrossing to watch. It's impossible not to root for Glass and his struggle to make it back home and exact some measure of revenge for what was done to him.

Entirely DiCaprio's film, with the exception of one or two scenes which Hardy steals, the other notable members of the cast are Domhnall Gleeson as the leader of the company fur trapping expedition and Forrest Goodluck as Glass' son Hawk.

The Revenant presents a struggle against death, circumstance, and nature. It's an immersive, and not always pleasant, movie experience, but you can't argue against its effectiveness. Following the bear attack, DiCaprio will speak only a handful of lines over the remainder of the film forcing the actor to rely on other means than dialogue to express his character's thoughts and emotions. Iñárritu chose his project and cast well and gets the most of both his actors and the screenplay by showcasing the harsh nature of the untamed West in a very non-traditional western. The emotion, struggle, and DiCaprio's willingness to throw himself completely into a mostly mute role allow us to forget just how little the film actually has to say outside of Glass' struggle for basic survival and thirst for vengeance.

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