Monday, January 4, 2016

Movie with Abe: The Revenant

The Revenant
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Released December 25, 2015

When a director wins an Oscar, it’s always worth keeping an eye on what he or she chooses as a follow-up project. Prior to taking home the Best Director trophy for “Birdman,” Inarritu first contended for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category for “Amores Perros” before helming “21 Grams” (a personal favorite of this viewer), “Babel,” and “Biutiful,” all of which were defined by a powerful heaviness that “Birdman” departed from in its lighter style. Make no mistake – “The Revenant” is a formidable return to seriousness that hits just as hard and brutally as some of Inarritu’s previous films.

After featuring a large and talented ensemble in his last film, Inarritu pares back the focus of the adaptation of the 2003 novel by Michael Punke, honing in one central character with just a few important players surrounding him at the start of the film. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is introduced as his camp is attacked by Native Americans while he is hunting with his son, and the group of trappers and hunters on a government-sponsored pelt expedition is pared down from over forty to just ten. Most devastatingly, Glass is horribly injured and nearly killed in a bear attack. Aware that the company must move on, Captain Andrew Henry (Domnhall Gleeson) leaves behind three men to care for Glass and transport him once he has healed, including Glass’ Native American son (Forrest Goodluck) and the self-motivated John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who is more than prepared to leave Glass for dead.

The ensuing plot, which takes the films to over two hours and thirty minutes, is the incredible story of Glass’ persistence and ability to survive, facing much more than just bears and murderous people. The grittiness of “The Revenant” feels remarkably real, as demonstrated by the extensive wounds on Glass’ body and such pleasant instances as him grabbing a live fish out of the water and eating it immediately. The snow that blankets Wyoming and the uncharted Louisiana Purchase area in the 1820s gives the film a sedated, endless feel that only increases its impact. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, who has won the Oscar the past two years for “Birdman” and “Gravity,” is exceptional, and Lubezki is deserving of a third trophy. DiCaprio delivers a harrowing and strong performance, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if his name was called on Oscar night too. Hardy continues to demonstrate his range and his ability to be despicable, and the seemingly omnipresent Gleeson contributes a quality performance too. This film is unapologetically brutal and long, but that’s part of what goes into a fine epic such as this.


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