Monday, January 11, 2016

The Revenant

From an unlikely true to life account, a member of a trapping party (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the uncharted west finds himself separated from his group and alone in a grizzly den where he is unsparingly attacked by the mother. He is then betrayed by a member of his camp (Tom Hardy) who, after bamboozling the other explorers, steals his rifle, slays his son, and leaves him near death in an unforgiving wilderness. The Revenant is ambitious, magnificent, ferocious and astounding filmmaking that seeks to add another revisionary chapter to the Western. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is a director who can often come off as highfalutin and pretentious but always aims big and here, with transcendent, Malick-like cinematography, deftly hits his mark. Leo's performance is one of sheer will, playing a character who ran a virtual death gauntlet, and whose many recreations were purportedly performed without a double. Hardy doesn't really reveal any new tricks but puts his acute grumbling intensity to good use and Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter are fine in support.  My only complaint is that, for such a lengthy picture, some of the wind comes out of the film's sails in its middle section and ambiguous cliches of modern violent epics seem to take its place.
*** 1/2 out of ****
side rant: i feel like there is something troubling with a certain faction dismissing this movie as a grandiose masculine fantasy when that same camp will likely cheer along with the cruel sadism and wanton senselessness of The Hateful Eight.