A fine display of the rawness of the natural world and human spirit.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Cast: Leonard DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhall Gleeson

Genre: Biographical, Adventure, Thriller

The Revenant will always be remembered as the film that won Leonardo DiCaprio his inaugural Oscar. People around the world have been rooting for him to win the coveted award for years. And they’re not wrong. DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of best actors of this generation and certainly the most consistent actor working today. The roles that he takes on and the directors that he works with really show what a smart actor he is. In this particular film, his performance is brilliant but certainly not the best of his career. Frankly speaking, I believe Michael Fassbender deserved the Academy award more for his performance in Steve Jobs. This is a point that I will later come back to.

Moving on to the film, The Revenant is a biopic on Hugh Glass who was an American frontiersman and hunter. Accordingly, the movie is set in the 1820’s. The story revolves around Glass’s attempts of survival (and subsequent revenge) after he is betrayed by some members of his hunting group.

Hugh Glass navigating through the wilderness

One of the best things about the film is its absolutely gorgeous natural imagery. The events of the film take place in harsh winter conditions and the cinematography captures this with near perfection. The mountains, the snow; everything in the film feels so natural which is due to the fact that it was shot on location and minimal visual effects were used. The film atmosphere is thus very raw and gritty.

The lansdscape

The Revenant deals with various themes. The first is man and his relationship with Mother Nature. How man affects nature and how nature affects man. Secondly, it is also a look into American history and how the indigenous communities at the time used to function. Leonardo DiCaprio dedicated his Best Actor (Drama) Golden Globe award to these communities in his acceptance speech. He said, “It is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected the planet for future generations.” Furthermore, the film also portrays the human instincts of survival, adaptation and revenge.

I feel that the film falls short in its screenplay. The atmosphere and ‘feel’ of the film are undoubtedly spectacular but cannot cover the shortcomings in the writing. To put it simply, the film is somewhat monotonous and there is minimal plot advancement at times. There are numerous scenes of Hugh Glass moaning and struggling to make it through the snow. I realize that such scenes are necessary given the physical nature of the film but by overdoing these types of scenes, you miss the opportunity to show scenes of character development which are pivotal to any film.

Coming back to the acting, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a brilliantly raw and visceral performance that requires a lot of physical effort. The reason I believe that Michael Fassbender should have won the Oscar is the fact that an Oscar is awarded for a particular performance and not your whole body of work (in which Leo is the clear winner). Hence, if we only use this role for comparison, Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs is better for me. He nails his role to perfection. Moreover, Tom Hardy’s supporting performance in The Revenant cannot be neglected. He adds an amazing amount of grittiness and intensity to his ruthless character.