I saw Alejandro Iñårritu’s latest film The Revenant six days ago. I tell you this not to show off but because after nearly a week has passed I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about this film.
I am certain I have seen something profound and yet I would struggle to tell you that this was a film that I wholeheartedly enjoyed.
Inspired by true events, The Revenant captures one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a bid to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.
This is a film about the power of the human spirit but it is also a film about suffering and the endurance of pain. Not just the physical pain of the aforementioned bear attack (which is surely one of the most brutal moments in recent cinema) but the suffering caused mental anguish and the consuming desire for revenge.
So the question remains, is it enjoyable to watch a man suffer for slightly under two and a half hours and watch him strive for vengeance?
My initial reaction was no. However having reflected over the last few days The Revenant has grown on me.
There are some incredible highlights to mention. The wonderful cinematography which elicits memories of Terrence Mallick and his love of nature. The opening sequence of the film where the hunting team is attacked by a native tribe is jaw dropping in it’s simultaneous beauty and brutality.
My favourite thing about this film though is the performance of Tom Hardy as the wild eyed, manic Fitzgerald. If DiCaprio is to win Best Actor at this year’s Oscars then surely Hardy HAS to be this year’s best supporting actor.
The Revenant is littered with spirituality, the continual resurrection of Glass regenerating throughout the film to become stronger on his journey home. One memorable scene in a crumbling church is particularly beautiful as Glass gazes on the image of Christ in a way recognising the near death and rebirth parallels of their lives.
The Revenant is a multi layered film that requires a viewer’s maximum concentration. If you invest enough in unpacking the complexities The Revenant is a cinematic wonder. If you are not fully engaged there is the chance that the film could appear pretentious and for art house lovers only.
The Revenant is not a film to be enjoyed. Much like the vast frontier it plays out in The Revenant is a film to be explored.
The Revenant is on general release from 15th Jan 2016.
Thanks to MovieHouse for advance screening access