Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film to hit the cinema is The Revenant about legendary
frontiersman Hugh Glass and how he claws at survival after a vicious bear attack and his exploration team have left him for dead. It’s caused a stir among many film fans, with lots of comments about how this year should be DiCaprio’s year to win an Oscar.
I couldn’t agree more, as his performance is absolutely outstanding. For a character who experiences more pain than you can imagine, both physically and emotionally, Leo completely owns it. For most of the film, he doesn’t speak, but his emotions and survival tactics are entirely raw and heartbreaking.
Alongside DiCaprio, Tom Hardy plays an utterly gross and spiteful character. Bitter from his treatment by the Native Americans, he doesn’t agree with Glass’ decisions and is the culprit behind him being left for dead after the harrowing bear attack. Coming across as mentally unstable, he’s creepy to watch and I always felt wary of him when he was on screen.
There aren’t many characters that make up the cast, allowing Leo to rise to the top as his character struggles through the uncharted land of North America. Having so few vital characters makes you really focus on the ones that you are fed, and by the end of the film, it feels as though you understand them and know them.
I didn’t expect the film to be as gory or as brutal as it was. Of course, I knew about the bear attack and I figured there would be a fair bit of fighting going on, but I didn’t think it would make me cringe as much as it did. At times I recoiled back into my seat, trying to get away from the gore. As it’s shot so close to the action and so intensely, with barely any breaks or cuts, it really draws you in and you feel like you are there with them. The bear attack itself was unlike anything I have seen before. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu has been pretty secretive about how the bear was made, preferring to keep it a mystery, but the film has won several awards already for its CG work.
The whole production is beautiful, and at times I felt as though I was encouraged to look at it as a piece of art, as you might in a gallery. Long takes and seemingly endless shots dominate the film, giving the viewer time to take in the breathtaking scenery. Strange angles of trees gives it an uncomfortable feel, along with the up close and personal shots of dirty faces with rotten teeth.
A 3 hour long combination of beautiful wide shots, bloody encounters and thought-provoking music makes The Revenant a strange piece of artwork. At times, it resonated with horror films such as The Shining (1980) and perhaps The Blair Witch Project (1999) by use of the vast, empty shots and eerie music.
It’s a one of a kind film and I haven’t seen anything like it before. Shrouded by controversy on the treatment of the crew and the decision to film in such remote and treacherous locations creates an air of mystery around the whole feature, encouraging you to wonder if DiCaprio was the only one who suffered to make this film.