The Revenant – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
In cinemas January 15th
Based on a true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass it is unlikely that you haven’t already heard one or two tales about this movie. One story that has been especially prevalent in the media is the rumour that Leonardo DiCaprio (as Glass) gets raped by a bear! Without wishing to spoil anything for viewers that is exactly as outlandish as it sounds so if that was putting you off seeing this don’t worry.
What does actually happen is that Glass get separated from his party of hunters and trappers while they are escaping an ambush and he is viciously attacked by a bear and although there is no rape it is a gruelling scene as DiCaprio is tossed about and brutally mauled by the vicious creature. Believing that their friend is fatally injured the captain (Gleeson) asks that someone stay behind to give him a decent burial when he eventually passes. With his son and two of his colleagues Fitzgerald and Bridger (Hardy and Poulter) reluctantly staying behind they await his demise. But Fitzgerald loses patience and kills Glass’s son while trying to bury him alive much to Bridger’s disgust. Leaving him for dead to rejoin the party he doesn’t count on Glas’s resilient spirit.
This has been receiving high praise and many plaudits and rightly so. It is a marvellous example of filmmaking done well. Rather than rely on CGI they really did film in harsh terrains and it shows. All of the actors bring an almost hyper intensity to their roles with DiCaprio managing to command the screen even though he has no dialogue for a huge chunk of the movie following the bear attack. Hardy is almost unrecognisable as Fitzgerald and Poulter has developed into a fine young actor.
Visually this is stunning with sweeping landscapes and beautiful composition. The soundtrack is also extraordinary and is like nothing you will have heard in a frontier based movie before. Ethereal and otherworldly it is almost like an additional cast member here.
Survival in the wild is not a new topic for movies and many are formulaic but there is an excitement about this one that is lacking in many others. It helps that it is grounded in fact (although some artistic licence has been taken). At times this is heart stopping, breathtaking and disturbing. It stirs emotions in the audience that most movies don’t and will make you feel things you had forgotten existed. My only complaint would be that it is a completely male-centric movie which is a huge problem in Hollywood at the moment. However, that personal bug bear aside this is a must see.