Oscars 2016 Best Picture Review: ‘The Revenant’ Is Harsh and Visceral, Iñárritu At His Best
Directed by Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant is a revenge drama based on the 2002 fact-based novel by Michael Punke. The film effectively transports us to a time and a place without explicitly specifying its intentions. We are completely immersed in this world, which is rendered believable in each small detail. The Revenant, tells the true story of early 19th-century fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is abandoned by his fellow men, who thought him dead after a vicious bear attack. Glass eventually makes his way back across thousands of miles and harsh conditions in order to get his revenge on John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the man who killed his son and left him for dead.
‘The Revenant’ Movie Review
The production, which took place largely in Canada and Argentina, was notoriously difficult on the cast and production team. Iñárritu is as exacting a director as they come and insisted on shooting only with natural light. On top of the scheduling demands, the team had to endure the harsh conditions of their hard-to-reach shooting locations. The dedication and commitment of the team is perhaps only surpassed by that of the film’s star, Leonardo DiCaprio, who makes another attempt at an Academy Award for best actor.
The role seems tailored for DiCaprio, whose outstanding performance is deserving of the utmost recognition. In The Revenant, the actor shows physical endurance and rigor in his acting that are rarely seen on screen. The part of Hugh Glass is extremely physically demanding, especially because so little of the end product that we see is actually the result of dialogue set in the script, but DiCaprio is not afraid to go all-in in the hope that he will finally earn the coveted Academy Award.
Without diminishing the importance of DiCaprio’s acting, there is a lot more to the movie beyond the powerful performance of a stoic character. The beautiful execution of the visuals under the direction of Iñárritu and the cinematographic hand of Birdman collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki is equally as astonishing an achievement. Iñárritu and Lubezki have opted out for prolonged tracking shots, reminiscent of the “single take” approach used in Birdman, which intend to intensify the viewers’ identification with the main character on his painstaiking journey and revenge. And while it may seem like the films two hour and a half length is a little over the top, the engrossing visuals make The Revenant all the more thrilling to watch.
The Revenant‘s 12 Oscar nominations across the board are without a doubt well-deserved. After major wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTA awards, it seems clear that multiple Academy Awards are lined up once again for Iñárritu and his team.
The Revenant does not make a claim on any moralizing truths other than perhaps the obvious one – the resilience of the human spirit – nor does it attempt to transcend the bounds of its narrative. The film is most concerned with presenting a story in the most captivating way possible, which Iñárritu delivers on superbly.