Time Out says
Leonardo DiCaprio battles the elements in this fierce Western from Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
After the playful, urban and contemporary vibe of Birdman, this bleak 1820s-set Western sees Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu return to the darker worldview of his earlier films like Babel and 21 Grams. Based on a 2002 Michael Punke novel about real-life folk hero Hugh Glass, The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio (gruff, committed, unreadable) as a fur trapper and frontiersman left for dead by his colleagues in a wintry American landscape after being shredded by a bear. Glass survives, and he hauls his damaged body through snow, across rivers, up rocks and over plains in pursuit of John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, savage with a dash of much-needed black humor), the man responsible for abandoning him and forcing him to watch his young son of mixed-race parentage being murdered. So, it’s not a happy tale. But what survives from Birdman is a compelling, forward-moving, simple approach to storytelling that grips us through stretches of silence and misery.
There are times when the film feels like one long and unforgiving act of sadism, mostly directed at its lead character, but occasionally at us. (A warning: The film is long, the dialogue is minimal and the violence is sharp.) There are moments, too, that feel like parodies of awards-hungry acting, such as when we see DiCaprio chomping on raw animal meat or climbing into the steaming carcass of a dead horse. But what makes this more than just a punishing, fearful, expertly crafted thriller focused on one man’s endurance is Emmanuel Lubezki’s attractive, thoughtful cinematography. Lubezki’s work will be familiar to viewers of Terrence Malick’s recent films (including The Tree of Life) for the timeless sense of soulfulness that he can lend to a landscape. Here, that same visual style, coupled with the film’s concern for the Native American experience and its compassion for the father-child bond, makes The Revenant not just gruelling, but often gorgeous and quietly spiritual.
Cast and crew