“I ain’t afraid to die anymore,” said Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who had just been found, thought dead after being abandoned by fellow fur trapper John Fitzgerald. “I’d done it already.”
Directed by Alejandro Iñárritu, “The Revenant” tells the story of Glass who is left for dead by Fitzgerald after being mauled by a bear. The film follows Glass on his quest for survival and revenge across the winter wilderness. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy star as Glass and Fitzgerald, respectively.
From when the film begins to its closing moments, “The Revenant” is a visual splendor, albeit a violent one.
Iñárritu’s direction is both beautiful and bold, winning him a Golden Globe for best director. His decision to use only natural lighting leads to some of the most beautiful sequences put to film.
His use of close-ups is equally impressive, often getting so close to an actor that viewers can see the lens of the camera start to fog up. He uses long takes quite frequently also, leading to some truly wondrous set pieces.
The bear attack on Glass is filmed using this technique and, together with very realistic special effects, led to a scene that’s both shocking and violent, yet awe-inspiring. When combined, the result is a film that feels real. You’re not just watching Glass try to survive, you feel as if you’re right there with him.
None of this would matter, though, if the actors weren’t up to par. Luckily they each give a stand-out performance.
DiCaprio’s performance is captivating and likely the most physically demanding of his career. Throughout most of the film, he must crawl, fight and do some unsavory things in order to survive and you believe every second of it. His dedication to being as authentic as possible, even to go as far as eating raw bison liver, leads to possibly the best performance of his career.
Hardy delivers an excellent performance as the ruthless Fitzgerald, playing him with an intense ferocity that’ll leave viewers stunned.
The film isn’t without its low points though, the most glaring one being the ending moments.
As the film progresses, the audience is shown the strength of the human spirit and how one should never give up even against the most impossible of odds. Without spoiling anything, the film ends on an almost nihilistic note that contradicts the rest of the story.
Despite this flaw, “The Revenant” is a powerful film that should not be missed. With a haunting soundtrack, gorgeous visuals and great performances, “The Revenant” is one of the year’s best films.