Inarritu is one of the modern masters of cinema. I’d watch his take on a dog pooing in someone’s lawn.
The Revenant is, technically, an outstanding achievement. By this point you’ve read the articles touting it’s intense shoot (below freezing weather, fights amongst actors and director, an unyielding request to have the film entirely shot in natural light) and the unbearable acts Inarritu demanded of his cast (Leo ate a liver!) and all of this comes across in the film. It is a staggeringly beautiful movie that is relentless in portraying the hardships of a) being a mountain man in the 19th century and b) fighting back from death in an icy landscape before chasing your almost-killer through hellish conditions. This is a brutally violent (in all aspects) film that never lets up for a moment. Leonardo DiCaprio is very good as a Hugh Glass (the mountain man who seeks vengeance) but he can’t compare to the muttering anger Tom Hardy, a scalping survivor, who nearly murders Glass, well, mostly because he’s bored. So, the film is beautiful, harrowing and well-acted – but why can’t I just come out and say I loved it? Because I didn’t. As much of a technical achievement as it is and as many times as my mouth dropped in astonishment from some artfully crafted battle scene, well, the film is a just a little bit boring. After nearly three hours of watching and waiting for Hugh Glass to get his, the film starts to feel a bit empty, a bit hollow beneath it’s gorgeous surface. More so, at times Inarritu’s obsession with making this a visually astounding film (hope you like tracking shots) becomes distracting. I spent so much time marveling at how he might’ve accomplished a certain ridiculous shot (Hugh Glass falling off the cliff is one that comes to mind) I stopped paying attention to what really drives what is essentially a two-person film – the characters. DiCaprio and Hardy do a shit-ton with what they have, unearthing motivations I don’t know if anyone believed actually lived in this script, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a revenge film, gussied up and drawn out to great lengths because, well, that’s what great films do. All of this film-bashing aside though, you should see The Revenant not only because of it’s achievements on a technical scale because nowadays it’s such a damn rarity to see a true master get the opportunity to make a good old-fashioned film.
One Last Thought:
Sometimes pretty isn’t everything.