Review: The Revenant (2015)

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It was only last year that I found myself being absolutely floored by the brilliance Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, a film I consider to be one of my all-time favorites and a film that unsurprisingly took home four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

A year later, Inarritu has returned with perhaps his most wildly ambitious film yet, and a film that is likely to find both him and Leonardo DiCaprio at the center of the Oscar conversation.

Based loosely on Michael Punke’s novel of the same name, The Revenant follows 1823 fur-trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) who while on an expedition gets mauled by a bear, witnesses the death of his native american son at the hands of a callous and bitter fellow fur-trapper Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and finds himself left for dead by his comrades. Moaning and grunting he escapes a shallow grave and goes on a mission to avenge the death of his son and find redemption while also attempting to survive the exceedingly intense weather conditions.

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The Revenant is quite simply a breathtaking cinematic experience. It is a film that grabs you from the magnificently orchestrated opening sequence and never lets go until the credits have finally rolled. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has crafted one of the most immersive, beautiful and harrowing films to ever grace the big screen.

The story at heart is relatively simple and the film actually contains very little dialogue, but it’s through the incredible performances and Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s masterful work behind the camera that The Revenant remains gripping throughout. The film is easily one of the most visually sublime films I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, every image, every frame feels so lucid and so vivid that it’s impossible to not be left astounded.

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The film’s sheer brutal and unflinching nature is magnified in the form of an incredible scene in which Glass played by DiCaprio is mauled by a bear, and just the grit and intensity of the scene was enough to leave me at edge of my seat. But while the film stays pretty brutal and bleak throughout it has a really great lyrical quality to it as well, which in my opinion gives the whole film great meaning.

The film’s emotional center comes in the form of Terrence Malick-like dream sequences which also act as expository plot devices and give the film a powerful evocative touch.

It seems no film starring Leonardo DiCaprio these days is able to not spark a debate about his chances at winning an Oscar and he may finally have his name on the Best Actor Oscar because he gives by far the most committed and physically challenging performance of his career. DiCaprio literally goes to hell and back in this film and the fact that he has barely five or six lines in the movie and sells his entire performance through his eyes and facial expressions is a testament to his brilliance as an actor.

Tom Hardy The Revenant

Equally great is Tom Hardy who nearly steals the show from DiCaprio in his turn as the villainous Fitzgerald. His menacing and commanding performance is truly something to behold as well.

The Revenant is a starkly beautiful, haunting, sometimes jaw-dropping epic of the frontier. It’s a breathtakingly shot examination of what a person can do to survive and a film that’s poetic and lyrical while also being brutal and exceedingly intense. It’s one of the best films I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in sometime and easily one of the best ones of 2015.

9.7/10

-Khalid

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21 responses to “Review: The Revenant (2015)

  1. You and I are the Innaritu fan club in this part of the blogosphere Khalid. Great review and great movie! I can’t wait to see what Innaritu offers next

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fine review! So glad you enjoyed it. While I wasn’t enamored with Birdman, The Revenant took my breath away in so many areas. When writing my review I literally couldn’t stop writing. I had to go back to prune it several times. So much good stuff to say.

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    • Thanks Keith! Inarritu is quickly becoming my favorite director. Like I said, I was blown away by Birdman and this came very close to matching its greatness imo.
      Cant wait to see what Inarritu does next

      Like

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Movies of 2015 | The Blazing Reel·

  4. Good review. I didn’t like this as much as everyone else it seems. It’s a wonderfully made movie that shows great filmmaking technique but its runtime is excessive and the middle just feels rather empty. There isn’t enough happening in this movie for my liking. It’s a great movie in terms of technique but not one in terms of story and entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah but that’s kinda the point isnt it? It’s a film about survival and redemption and I cant think of any way this story could have been told any better. I fully understand your reservations about the film but personally I found the lyrical storytelling quite beautiful and the brutality added a layer of grittiness to which for me, made it thoroughly gripping

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review. I really enjoyed the more poetic thematic elements as well. This movie blazed by (see what I did there). I was totally absorbed. What an exciting movie. I was surprised that something so action packed could balance the “Mallick” flavours so well. This was also one of my fav films last year.

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