One of the most talked-about films of recent months finally hits theaters, and it is a doozy. Though it is not the best film of 2015, The Revenant may be the most brutal, both to its characters and to viewers. Clocking in at over two-and-a-half hours (still a half-hour shorter than The Hateful Eight), The Revenant may have fewer lines of dialogue than it has minutes: Leonardo DiCaprio lets his ice-cold blue eyes and even icier revenge do his talking as he stalks Tom Hardy’s mumble-mouthed frontier murderer.
Based in part on Michael Punke’s novel about the true story of Hugh Glass, who survived a mauling by a grizzly bear, The Revenant adds in the revenge angle as Glass seeks John Fitzgerald, who murdered his part-Native American son. As filmed by Academy Award winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant is gorgeously wild. The wilderness is as key a character in this film as Glass’ story is as much man versus nature as it is man versus man. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki deserves every award he receives for capturing the pretty cruelty of the North American wilds.
That the actors survived this experience while essentially living like the 19th-Century trappers they portray should not be discounted when ingesting their performances. Leo may finally get the Oscar he has long deserved. As always, Hardy disappears into his rather unlikable role; nevertheless, his nearly unintelligible drawl detracts.
Beware: The film alternates between quick brutality and long stretches of nature worship. However, the unbelievably realistic bear attack must be seen to be believed and makes for required viewing. Just do not be surprised if you leave the film a little bit chilly.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.