Two big Oscars years in a row is a good sign.
Following his critically acclaimed film Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s latest film The Revenant is a spectacular journey of survival and vengeance. Based on the true story, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) must survive a vicious winter after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his companions, and find his way back to camp to avenge this betrayal.
As a tale of survival, Inarritu keeps us on the edge of our seats as Glass fights for his life, whether it’s against his betrayers or the elements, and the action is so thrilling that it’s hard to look away, even in the most intense parts. But the political aspect of colonial America battling the Pawnee Native Americans and the French for land is also fascinating, as we are thrust into the fierce world of Frontier America. The relationship between Glass and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) is compelling as well, and as we further explore Glass’ history with the Pawnee people, we find ourselves respecting and rooting for him even more.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu is proving to be one of the most masterful directors of recent years, teaming up with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to create one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen. From the beautiful wintry scenery shown in epic long shots, to the intimate close ups on the cast and surroundings to show winter’s devastation of all, every shot is considered and adds something more, even if it’s tiny. There are even periodic shots of the moon waxing and waning, to convey the progression of winter to the audience.
Even if winter is personified as a villain of the film, it has nothing on The Revenant’s main antagonist, John Fitzgerald, played to understated brilliance by Tom Hardy. He’s quietly murderous, plotting against all to ensure that he comes out on top, but he’s also loud and terrifying when he needs to be. Will Poulter and Domnhall Gleeson also stand out in this film, just proving that Gleeson’s career is on fire at the moment (Star Wars, Ex Machina, About Time, etc.), but no one is more captivating than Leonardo DiCaprio. Through all the emotional and physical pain his character goes through, DiCaprio IS Hugh Glass, plain and simple, and even with such an outstanding filmography as his, this is one of the best performances of his career.
The Revenant is an example of all the elements of filmmaking working brilliantly to create something that is even more brilliant. Visually magnificent, with a compelling story and outstanding cast, the Revenant is some of filmmaking’s finest.
Here’s a list of my five favourite films starring the cast of the Revenant:
- Titanic – Leonardo DiCaprio
- About Time – Domnhall Gleeson
- Mad Max: Fury Road – Tom Hardy
- The Maze Runner – Will Poulter
- Inception – Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy