The Revenant (2015)
The Revenant is the much anticipated new film by Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Instead of looking at the neurotic world of Broadway, he opted for a frontier movie this time, which revels in stunning images of the wilderness shot on location in Canada. But it’s not all Kumbaya in the Wild West, and the unchartered territory of the frontier becomes the backdrop for one man’s quest for survival and revenge.
It’s almost as if Iñárritu made a deal with his leading man Leonardo DiCaprio: If you do all this shit for me, I’ll help you win an Oscar. And boy does Leo work for it! In the span of two hours, we see him bleed and groan, drool and grunt, as he gets mauled by a bear (twice!), almost buried alive, dragged down a wild river, and more… Don’t worry about me spoiling too much: there are many more gruesome and technically fatal misfortunes he has to endure. His suffering is sheer endless, and at some point, I hate to say it, I kinda lost interest in this tour de force. And it’s not his fault, but rather Iñárritu forgot to hold up his end of the bargain: In the middle of crafting his vision of merging breathtaking imagery, a hypnotic score, and Leo panting in agony, the director forgot to add a plot.
It doesn’t help that he seems to taken a leaf or two out of Terrence Malick’s book. Personally, I’m not a fan of the esoteric whispering over heavily symbolic dream sequences and think they could have easily been cut.
Overall, The Revenant is a feast for the senses (if revulsion can also be considered a sense) but not for the brain or the heart. Three stars plus a half star for the ultra-realistic bear scene. Makers of In the Heart of the Sea, take note!