The Revenant

Nature Never Got so Claustrophobic

Another update! Another Pick! Slightly off-time, but still! Against the feeling of wanting to crawl back into my bed and sleep until four in the evening, I’m striving through the pain to bring you some more reviews. I wonder if this is what the world of work feels like…

This week, I went to the Pangaea festival in Manchester. Video-game themed! Mario was the obvious choice, and while I wanted to think outside the box, you can’t beat those plumber overalls for a tenner at your local costume shop!

It ended up being a great night, enjoyed with great friends, and accompanied with great music from Katy B and Swim Deep. A big shout-out to Soul Food Experiment, who finished off my night with a bang!

And speaking of ‘bangs’, let’s go on to Leonardo’s latest grab for the Oscar, the explosive film The Revenant. Some may say that it is the firework to propel Leo to that golden trophy, and others think it’s as explosive as ten hours of watching paint dry. But what can I gather from Iñárritu’s latest production?

Remember: spoilers are in black bars. Highlight them to view:


PLOT: Real-life legend Hugh Glass and his made-up Native-American son, Hawk, are on a trapping trip in South Dakota. After being attacked by Native-Americans, Glass is attacked again by a bear and is mutilated severely. This leaves Hawk, a young trapper called Bridger and trapper-with-racist-undertones Fitzgerald to look after him as the rest of the company go on ahead. However, Fitzgerald kills Hawk and tricks Bridger to come with him, leaving Glass to die. Will Glass survive the harsh obstacles that nature throws at him? And can he get revenge for his son’s murder?

Right, let’s get down to it. The question is on everyone’s mind. Does Leonardo DiCaprio deserve the Oscar for his potrayal of Hugh Glass? Of course, I think Leo deserves an Oscar by now, yet I have my doubts on whether this is his shot.

The only two nominees in which I can have any say on are Leo for The Revenant and Matt Damon for The Martian. After looking at my review of The Martian, Leo’s performance tackling our natural instinct to survive tops Matt Damon’s more empathetic role, but after watching The Wolf of Wall Street this year, I’m wondering if the unflinching performance for Glass had as much emotional range as the selfish Belfort. Sure, it has to be taken into account that Glass isn’t the most chatty of people as he’s tumbling down a river, but I didn’t seem to feel anything for Glass. There wasn’t enough substance on Glass to make me feel empathetic towards him, unlike the deep focus we had of Watney’s layered psyche in The Martian.

But enough on the Oscar-less Leo! What about the rest of the film?

The Revenant has a very pleasing simplicity. As soon as the film finishes setting up the death of Hawk, it all boils down to Glass vs. the wild and Fitzgerald. The lengths he goes, not for his survival, but to avenge his son’s death is mind-boggling. You are seriously going to appreciate the comfort you live in after this film. The only slight downfall was the inclusion of Glass’ deceased wife. There isn’t enough emotional connection with her character, and the details of her death is covered in around five minutes of sporadically-placed flashbacks. Come on Iñárritu, this isn’t Memento.

Going back to Oscars, there is absolutely no way that The Revenant can lose for cinematography (granted, I haven’t yet seen The Hateful Eight). This would make it Lubezki’s third consecutive win after Gravity and Birdman, and I have no problem with that. Lubezki manages to capture the impossible scale of South Dakota’s harsh environment, yet somehow keeps Glass trapped in the screen, intensifying the action and physicality of the actors to show how suffocating this world is. One scene in particular caught my eye, which is the long-shot at the beginning of the film where the fur-hunters are attacked by Native Americans. It’s brutally beautiful. Think Birdman with bows and arrows.

A warning: this film is no easy viewing. One is the brutality of it all, with Glass being thrown around like a doll in a washing machine, and the other point is that the film is very, very long. If you’re in the mood to see a man be physically and mentally tormented for three hours, at least make sure you have a cappuccino and large sweet-and-salted popcorn to keep you awake. Also, as a friend pointed out, be prepared to see a lot of long shots of nature and nothingness. Seriously, there was a twenty-second shot of clouds and Glass’s heavy breathing. I know, it represents his survival over nature, but the movie magic can start to wear-off.

In short, The Revenant is a solid piece of armour with a few chinks here and there. Despite all the grit and dirt that specks the chain-mail, it all adds to the charm of The Revenant‘s bold cinematography, and in some cases choreography (I mean, that end battle between Fitzgerald and Glass is horrifyingly spectacular! Who’d have thought cutting through fingers could look so real!). Sure, this film might not be your cup of tea, but who can resist some stellar performances from Will Poulter, Tom Hardy and of course, our favourite, Leonardo DiCaprio! While I might be routing for Eddie Redmayne to win Best Actor for The Danish Girl, I’ll secretly cheer you on inside, Leo.

VERDICT: 9/10 – You’ll get your Oscar one day Leo. Just bear with it!

Come on guys! I’ve bear-ly begun!

Ok, fine, these puns are unbearable.