Review: The Revenant
Cinema: The Revenant (2015)
I remember watching the much lauded Birdman when it came out and thought ‘this is a bit annoying’; the soundtrack, the frenetic pace and visuals, the close-up camera work. The acting was good, the story a bit ‘meh’ and I was unimpressed. Having seen Inarritu’s other films (Babel, Biutiful) no one could ever accuse him of being subtle in his storytelling. So on seeing The Revenant trailer my interest was piqued. As regulars know my one true love of genre starts with westerns and this film… looked very much like a true, perhaps even ‘pure’ visceral western in the true historical sense. But seeing who had directed it, despite his use of natural light, Leonardo DiCaprio and the story itself, made me feel a little hesitant.
I am the sort of film fan who feels genuinely moved by stories; I cry, I ache, I adore. However I can’t ever remember feeling like I’m really there, placed alongside those characters, running, feeling desperately cold, looking at stars, a part of an eternal history. This film has completely knocked me for 6. It’s filled with many metaphors, it takes a stand for indigenous peoples, it is filled with yearning, revenge, hopelessness and palpable feeling of pain. This film has been accused of being misogynist, boring and racist (let’s not discuss a bear ‘raping’ Leo..huh!?). Yes the indigenous people are portrayed as one dimensional ANGRY murderer’s, the women are sidelined and the middle of the story does lag a little, but you have to remember that this is Hugh Glass’s story, through his eyes, and what you see is what he sees. To give a rounded story including the Indians back story this film would have been 8 hours long. As for the misogyny, white women would have been incredibly scarce in South Dakota during that time, and I’m sure any women who were around weren’t treated well.
Alejandro Inarritu has taken his once annoying kinetic camera and made it work in The Revenant. I felt breathless in the first 10 minutes of the film, an epic battle between the white men and the Indians racing alongside Tom Hardy, dodging arrows, racing to safety, his quick-cut ultra close-ups, too jittery in Birdman, have found a home in this film where the all too real and isolated location, real cold and real light need this insular, inclusive gaze.
I can’t fault the acting in any of the cast (perhaps one bugbear is Tom Hardy playing ‘Gruff Tom Hardy’ again) and Leo who deserved an Oscar for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Great Gatsby and especially the The Wolf Of Wall Street, will now finally get one. He is without a doubt a REAL film star. Forget Tom Cruise. I’m talking real old school Hollywood here. He’s the real deal.
The Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack is incredible and fortunately not intrusive, but rather adds to the organic feel of the spiritual side of the film. This is perhaps the key reason I really loved The Revenant. It’s spiritual, beating heart. It has so much more to say about love, relationships and the world around us than a lot of scalpings and a really amazing bear attack. Because this film doesn’t hold back in its extreme violence, it is in parts quite horrific but underneath it all is a distinct feeling of loss and life. And this feeling is mainly down to Leo’s performance.
Now having said all this, I should add that I saw this movie with Dave, who said the camera work got on his nerves, it was too long and … Mmmm…. So while I was completely entranced with this amazing piece of filmmaking, Dave was a bit bored. Just goes to show how opinon’s can differ! But this is MY review. Please don’t miss this incredible film in the cinema. It’s in my top 10 already.
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With)