The Revenant

2016 best picture nominee

Rating: 16/20

Plot: After being sexually assaulted by a bear, a guy is stranded in the woods by his so-called buddies and left to die. In retrospect, it's one of the meanest practical jokes ever seen in a movie. He doesn't die, however, and instead seeks revenge, much to the chagrin of Mad Max.

This isn't quite the revolution that Birdman was, but it's one of those cinematic experiences that will stick around for a long time. I guess my only gripe is that it's really pretty empty in the end, a movie that looks great and has a handful of great performances and the best CGI-bear that you've likely ever seen but also a movie that doesn't really add up to much of anything. It's your typical man vs. nature survival story drenched in revenge.

Leo DiCaprio got the accolades and his face on all the posters, but to me, Tom Hardy stole this show. His performance is stunning, almost haunting, and he creates this loathsome character that is both very simple and strangely complex. Really, it's Hardy's character's story anyway. He's the cat who drives the story, and he's the one haunted by Leonardo DiCaprio's ghost. DiCaprio's performance is fine but arguably not award-worthy as he spends the majority of the movie grunting and moaning.

God damn it! There's Domhnall Gleeson again. This guy is ubiquitous. You can't throw a rock and not hit a movie that Domhnall Gleeson's in.

The real star of this movie is the scenery and cinematography. I'm too lazy to look up where this was filmed, but it might be one of those situations--like Arizona's Painted Desert--where it's impossible to make it look bad. Still, Alejandro Inarritu's got something special brewing with this string of greatness he's on, and this is one good-looking film. I love the use of natural light, and there are so many shots in this movie where you have to give everybody involved degree of difficulty points. Stand-out scenes include that aforementioned brawl with the CGI-bear. It's imperfect, but still probably the best animal-on-human or vice versa action I've ever seen. The best action sequence comes earlier though when some fur traders go at it, the camera moving so fluently through all this choreographed violence. It's stunning. And Inarritu succeeds in something that seems very difficult. He takes this James Fenimore Cooper tinted epic and somehow makes it very personal. The Emmanuel Lubezki cinematography puts your face right in the action, like Lubezki's giving you a swirly or something. It's brutal and relentless, and added to the sheer length of this story, you kind of feel exhausted after watching the thing.

This seems like a very easy movie to write and a very difficult movie to film.

I enjoyed the score quite a bit and was surprised to see it was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, his first Hollywood score in around 17 years. Sakamoto's score fits with the pace of the film, one that's often glacial and only punctuated by action and grunting.


Josh said...

My favorite part of the movie is when Leo meets the Native American who practically saves him from starvation, freezing, and overall exhaustion. The character was someone I wanted to invest in, and the actor seemed lifted straight from the pages. His imperfect face didn't look Hollywood; it looked real in that landscape.

The look and tone of the movie was perfect. The movement of the camera and cinematography were better than all the other films I saw this year. You're absolutely right about the acting. Tom Hardy had a haunting character and played it with depth. Leo didn't act, he REACTED. Awards should go to actors who control the scene -- not react to everything happening. Awards should go to actors who play roles that no one else could play. When I think of a Best Actor, I think about someone who played a role I couldn't imagine anyone else playing. Joe Pesci's "Goodfellas" role, Ralph Feines's "Mr. Gustave", Kathy Bates's vagina in "About Shmidt".

You could almost watch this movie on mute and get something out of it. It's more of an art piece than a Hollywood blockbuster.

Shane said...

Right, it seems like everybody knows that Leo didn't really get the award for this movie but more because he was due to win it. I've thought DiCaprio has been really great in some things. He doesn't do anything wrong here, but he's not given enough to work with to give an award-worthy performance.

I wasn't aware Kathy Bates' vagina won a Best Actor award. I guess no matter how many years of your life you waste writing a movie blog that nobody reads, you still can learn stuff.

Yeah, I liked that Indian, too. I always like Native Americans in movies. Especially that Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger.