Director Alejendro G. Inarritu
Writers : Mark L. Smith & Alejendro G. Inarritu
On the surface The Revenant is a movie about survival against the odds, and could have been Castaway in the cold, just with a lot less product placement. But Director Alejendro G. Inarrittu created a film, that although set in 1823, transcends the genre and feels brand new.
The actual filming was punishing on cast and crew, with tough conditions across multiple continents, but the achievement was extraordinary. And it’s not just the big stuff. While the bear attack is like nothing ever seen before, it’s the smaller details that are exquisite. Condensing breath vapour is used to transition between scenes in one tiny moment, and at the other end of the kinetic scale, the camera’s point of view is used as a relay baton from one act of violence to another in the opening attack sequence.
The feeling throughout is immersive and the cold is relentless. Threats are numerous and when they come you are so close, it’s impossible not to flinch. The acting is mostly invisible, with the cast experiencing what their character do because it’s real, it’s not green screen, so they aren't pretending to be cold. You get the sense that that the cast’s homeless look comes with the associated smell.
The best thing about Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is that you forget it’s him. It’s not just the hair, the furs and multiple self surgeries. He was a grown up. When you know an actor as a kid it can be sometimes hard to shed that image, but all trace of Arnie Grape appears now to be gone.
Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald is all business. When the others are fleeing an Indian attack, Fitz is picking up the pelts. The only thing worse than dying would be not getting paid. Some of his decisions later shift beyond the pragmatic, but Hardy plays him motivated & self interested rather than psychopathic. He’s often incomprehensible, but is always compelling. While Leo will probably get the big gong for this movie, it’s Hardy that is the powerhouse.
The Revenant is up for many awards and will probably win most of them (if there was an award for the worst sleeping bag ever, the Palomino wins). Inarritu has proved in moving from the internal hallways of Birdman to the expanse of the frontier, that the field that he plays on clearly doesn’t matter. He’s committed to telling visually spectacular and compelling stories and we can only look forward eagerly to the next one.
A Must See