Scott F. Evans
Alejandro Inirratu’s The Revenant is a remarkable technical achievement and a master class in visual filmmaking. You won’t find a more gorgeously shot film this season. Inirratu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki took up the challenge of shooting only in natural light, and were able to craft some truly stunning images. Also at play are the director’s signature long takes and inventive camerawork. The Revenant is definitively beautiful with an epic two and a half hour run-time.
Inirratu gets strong performances from his two leads. As frontier tracker Hugh Glass, Leonardo DiCaprio turns in the most intensely physical work of his career. Glass is the archetypical frontiersman; laconic, highly skilled, and fiercely motivated. DiCaprio completely commits to what ends up being an endurance test. You can feel him fighting for that Best Actor Oscar. He’s great, but miscast in a role that required an actor with more physical weight. Tom Hardy fared a little better. Even hidden under a heavy beard, and another near unintelligible accent (Batman’s Bane and Legend’s Ronald Kray were apparently practice runs) , Tom Hardy is still solid as the film’s antagonist John Fitzgerald.
I don’t have much else to say about The Revenant. The story itself is a fairly simple revenge yarn. Cut down to a more reasonable 90 to 100 minutes, The Revenant would’ve been a masterpiece of lean muscular cinema. As is, it’s bloated despite masterful direction and excellent performances from the entire cast. The film strains for profundity against the narrative’s thin plot. It contains scene after lengthy scene of hallucinations and dream sequences, none of which really amount to much considering The Revenant’s pulpy core of survival and vengeance.
Honestly, it’s challenging to sit through a film that’s so smug and impressed with itself but has so little to say. By the time we get to the inevitable showdown, you realize that Inirratu could have done us the favor of leaving half of what preceded on the cutting room floor.
The visuals alone are worth seeing on a large screen, so if you’re up for the challenge, catch it if you can.