Review: The Revenant

By: Andrew Haas

It’s currently award season and one of the biggest titles going around is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. Coming off his critically acclaimed 2014 film Birdman, I was curious to see what else this director had to offer. I saw the movie earlier this month, and was not disappointed.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a fur trapper in the 1800’s who is mauled by a bear during an expedition. His situation is worsened by one of his team members, played by Tom Hardy, who kills his son and abandons him. Now Glass fights for survival as he searches the cold wilderness for his hunting team and the one who left him for dead.

This is one of the few films that truly makes me admire the art of film making, as it is most gorgeously shot films I have seen. I was amazed that they were able to get a lot of these shots, especially the long takes. There’s something about them that seems to bring the audience into the world, even if it’s not a world they want to be in. The director decided to use all natural lighting, meaning all the light came from the sun or in some cases, fire. This must’ve been a risky move, but it’s one that paid off as it really brings out the harsh, cold feeling of this environment. The only times I felt it got a bit pretentious was with some of Glass’s visions, which try to be surreal and artsy, but don’t always work. But that’s only a minor flaw to an otherwise beautiful picture.

Film making aside, the cast does a fantastic job. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter do their parts well as the leader of the expedition and the other person who left Glass. Hardy makes a great antagonist as you see why he would leave for his own safety, even if his morals are questionable. But we all know who the real star is. This is by far one of DiCaprio’s most stunning performances. He carries most of the film himself, all while his character is in terrible pain throughout. I look at this guy and I don’t see a performance, I see a man who is fighting death. I know we all joke about him not winning the Oscars, but he really deserves it with this performance

That’s another thing, this movie is brutal. I’m not the most squeamish person, but there were many parts that even I couldn’t stomach. When someone’s in pain, I feel that pain. The bear scene alone was hard for me to watch, but for all the right reasons. It sets the stage for the long, horrible aftermath the protagonist goes through. He tries to drink something, and blood spills from his neck. If somebody cannot handle what I just described, that person will have a hard time sitting through this film.

I enjoyed Birdman, and with The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu once again shows his talents as a filmmaker. With a solid cast, harsh feel, and stunning cinematography, this is one of the best films of the season. Like I said, only the very squeamish will want to avoid this one. As for everyone else, I highly recommend it. Just make sure you bring a jacket, in case the movie makes you feel cold.

Rating: 4.5/5