Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass
Tom Hardy as Fitzgerald
Domhnall Gleeson as Captain Henry
Will Poulter as Bridger
Directed and co-written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
If this doesn’t win in at least 4 Oscars, I will be truly surprised. I also expect about 10 nominations: Actor, Director, Picture, Cinematography, Sound Mixing/Editing, Editing, Makeup, Costume, and possibly even Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay (maybe not on the last one). Yes, it’s that good.
Remember: this review contains lots and lots of spoilers. So stop here if you haven’t seen it or don’t want to know.
Hugh Glass is a trapper/scout/mountain man working with a team in the Great Plains, mid-1800s. It’s brutal. Guns just don’t really take care of business, so knives are the most valuable weapon you can carry (they come in handy numerous times during the film). After an escape from a native attack, Glass and the gang head back to the fort with what pelts they still have. On the way, Glass is mauled by a sow grizzly, gets (sort of) patched up, and is hauled back with his group. For a while. Then Fitzgerald, a nasty, lying, SOB, talks the military captain into leaving Glass behind with a couple men to die; the men can give him a proper burial and then catch up to the group. Well, Fitzy sucks, and kills Glass’s son, lies to the other man/boy staying behind, and leaves Glass for dead.
Except he doesn’t die. He pulls his broken ass out of the big dirt hole and sets out to exact revenge on Fitzgerald. He goes through some harrowing encounters and somehow manages to survive to take care of business.
Brutal, sometimes impossible to watch, but absolutely fascinating, The Revenant has serious potential to be the big movie of the year, award-wise. Why?
• The locations. Isolated, breathtakingly beautiful, and filmed only in natural light, Inarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki rock the socks off of this bad boy. The Canadian Rockies, Libby, and Argentina never looked so good. Talk about snow!
• The cast. This is the best role I’ve ever seen Leo take on. His portrayal is absolutely amazing. He really makes you understand how it feels to be mauled by a bear and then sewed up by a guy whose father was a doctor. In the middle of nowhere. And being carried on a pole platform, every move wreaking agonizing havoc on your broken body. I thought for sure he’d have broken a tooth or two, the way he was clenching.
You can’t leave out Tom Hardy as Fitzgerald, either. We’ve seen him in pretty ruthless roles before (the Dark Knight Rises, Lawless, Warrior, Bronson), and they just got him warmed up for this film. What an ASSHOLE. Every single word out of this guy’s mouth is treason, but because he also happens to be a badass, no one counters him. Every interaction he has makes you want to punch him in his damn throat to shut him up. He’s so good in this role!
• Inarritu’s subtle additions to the story and film. The beginning gives us voice-over narration, Glass talking to his son about never giving up. If you can take a breath, you fight. As the film progresses, there are so many times that Glass could give up and die. It wouldn’t be a difficult death, either, as rough of shape as he’s in. But he breathes. And he fights. And he survives. Using the breath directly on the camera lens drives it all home.
• I’m an animal lover, if you didn’t know that already, so the scenes with the appaloosa were particularly rough. I was crying and hiding behind my hands (but so was my sister-in-law, so I don’t feel too awful). I know it’s fake. You can’t just ride a real horse off a cliff to its death in real life. But oh MAN was that effect well done. So realistic. But the one that was really unexpected was how I reacted to Glass’s group killing the sow grizzly. Obviously, she just ripped up their scout pretty bad, but she had two cubs. If you’re gonna kill her, you might as well kill the babies too. They’ll never survive on their own. Moral of this story: people can hurt/kill/maim each other in movies all they want. Don’t mess with the animals. It’s not fair.
• Did anyone else see the Corgi/random little dog flying over a snowdrift outside the fort? I laughed so hard! I almost want to see it again just for that. It was completely unexpected but so hilarious!
Phew. So good. And I could go on and on and on about it. But I guess I should leave you to think about the points I’ve discussed and reflect on the important parts you chose. See it again. I might have to as well.
Weepy Meter: 6/10 There are a LOT of deaths. It was a rough time in history, but good lord it was violent. Most of my tears were for the bear and horse, but a few were for Leo. He went through a lot.
Man Meter: 10/10 I went with 4 other guys. They loved it. Go again. Together. One hell of a date, don’t you think?
Overall Rating: 9/10 It’s not really my favorite genre of movie, but it’s so damn good. I know I missed a lot of stuff because I was hiding, so I should go see it again. I just don’t know if I can handle it. Sigh. Is a puzzlement.