Inarritu, DiCaprio, & Canada
A Few Of My Favorite Things
Holy shit, this fucking movie.
I just got back from seeing The Revenant. I went into this movie expecting to blown away, I mean Inarritu, Dicaprio, 1800’s frontier, Canada… These are all things that are fairly incredible by themselves, but thrown in together it’s a recipe for magic, and magic is just what I saw. If you are expecting a straight up revenge flick save your cash, because that’s not what you’re getting here. This movie is a study in many things. man vs man, man vs nature, revenge, love, hate and loneliness are all at play in this film. Let’s dig in.
No Relation To George
The film is the story of 19th Century explorer Hugh Glass, who during a trapping expedition was attacked by a bear, and let me be the first to tell you, the bear attack is gnarly. I can think of no better word to describe its sheer brutality. I enjoy when filmmakers set brutal violence against a beautiful back drop. The attack itself it so intense and raw that the viewers can practically feel the bear’s breath on them, and this is a true triumph for director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Violence elevated to sublimity.
The action pieces are truly wonderful. My personal favorite was the Native attack at the very beginning of the film. It was incredible. Throughout the entire film the action is handled deftly. Oh, and there is NO BEAR RAPE. Whoever started that rumor was one sick bastard.
I took a moment during a break in the action to look around the theater. Every time the bear uses its claws to rip Glass’s skin to ribbons, the audience grimaced a little bit. I saw people with their jaws on the floor. One woman had her arms crossed, and was hugging herself while her maw hung open in disbelief. The girl who I saw the movie with was sitting with her hand over her face in animal terror. Her demeanor would change by the end of he movie when she began to gleefully guffaw during a gory fight scene, little psychopath. I was snapped back into the movie when the bear continued it’s onslaught of claws and jaws, the film doesn’t let you breathe for too long.
Inarritu Made A Gorgeous Film
What stood out most to me about the movie was the incredible use of the landscape, and the cinematography. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu really used the environment to his advantage in this movie. As our characters get closer to civilization, Inarritu makes sure you see the landscape change to reflect that. The inflexible wildness of the Rocky Mountains melt into vast prairies.
The film was mostly shot in Alberta, Canada, where I am from, and the film utilized some of my home’s best features to illustrate the story. From the towering mountain peaks to the frozen rapids, the low prairies, and foothills, Alberta is a mostly untouched landscape, and Inarritu really puts it on display in this film. He puts the audience into this world.
Inarritu au Naturale
Inarritu only shot using natural light, meaning if the sun was right for a scene the actors and crew had to get that scene before the sun moved, or else try again the next day. It’s daring filmmaking like this that modern Hollywood is sorely lacking. Hopefully the success of The Revenant will rattle a few cages on the West Coast and give experimental and daring filmmakers a little more wiggle room. We don’t need anymore reboots. We need new ideas.
Just Like The Bear
This film doesn’t so much jump out and grab you as it does slowly creep inside your mind, until you’re just sucked into it. It somehow manages to make you feel cold, lonely and desperate right along with our protagonist. Just like the bear, the movie grabs you and doesn’t let go.
Now that the praise is out of the way, there are a few negative points to be made about the movie. It is extremely long, (2 hours 36 minutes) and not the kind where you walk out and say, “it didn’t feel like it was that long.” It feels like it was that long, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.
We constantly see for lack of a better term Westerns like these that are action packed, running and gunning, for 2 hours. This is in no way, shape, or form, what it was like to live out on the frontier in the 1800’s. It was desolate and lonely, so I imagine there are very long stretches of time where one wouldn’t have any interaction with anybody, let alone get into 3 shootouts on the same day. As such, the movie does crawl at points, but for me that just helped to drive home the point that Glass is really, and truly, alone. The movie wouldn’t hit as hard if he was running into people and doing important stuff every 10 minutes.
I can’t discuss this film without discussing the actors, and they were all around phenomenal. Leo DiCaprio was fantastic,which is no surprise as he usually is, but here he is a different kind of DiCaprio. He’s not only grizzled and desperate, but also the silent type. I think he may say less in this film than Tom Hardy did in Mad Max. I’m not sure but I bet it’s pretty close.
Speaking of Tom Hardy, he did a wonderful job as John Fitzgerald, our main antagonist and total dick, Tom Hardy played him slimy but at the same time emotionally and physically scarred. He played him as a man who has been deep in the shit, and this isn’t his first rodeo.
For me though one performance that stood out was Will Poulter as famed mountain man Jim Bridger, albeit a very young version of Bridger. I really enjoyed his portrayal of Bridger as somebody who is brave, tries to do the right thing, but is young and scared.
I also found it incredible how much Bridger trips in this film. There’s a great scene where Bridger and Fitzgerald are dragging Glass to his shallow grave, before leaving him for dead. Bridger trips while dragging him then leaves him, and runs off, and there’s a close up of Glass’s face, and in the background you see Bridger run across the screen and trip again. It had me cracking up in my seat.
Great Movie. Oscar Material.
This was one of my favorite movies of the entire year. It’s an Oscar contender for sure. The Revenant is just a great experience. Everybody needs to see this movie, if not for the story, then the cinematography and scenery.
The Revenant is visceral and relentless. It hits you in the beginning and then keeps hitting you over and over. Guys, I can’t stress it enough. See this movie. The scenery is great, the cinematography is great, the story is great, and the performances are all top notch. All cylinders are firing in this movie, so go see it. See it on the big screen. It’s incredible and definitely worth the price of admission. Bring a friend, bring a date (ok maybe not a date), bring whoever, or go alone, just get your ass to the theater and see the movie, and take it all in, you won’t regret it, and if you do I’ll fully take the blame.