‘The Revenant’ Or The Passion Of The Leo: A Unique Visual Spectacle | Film Review



Firstly, why Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t won an Oscar yet is a mystery. Finally The Revenant may be the film to earn him his well overdue gong. This is DiCaprio’s film and the only thing that outshines him is the cinematography.


The cinematography is the film’s greatest performance. It is a scene stealing performance that detracts from everything else. The difficult nine month shoot in the wilds of Alberta and Argentina is well documented, but the results are right there to be seen. Director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, defied convention by shooting in chronological order and only in natural light. The sensory experience makes the wafer-thin plot and a lack of character development almost irrelevant. Whilst DiCaprio’s character’s goes through his own personal hell (The Passion of The Leo), it is often made to look like heaven.


Set in the American Midwest, the film follows the frontiersmen of the 1820s upon a fur-trading venture as recounted in Michael Punke’s source novel. The expert tracker, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), achieved mythical status by surviving the wilderness after being left for dead and then seeking revenge on those who wronged him. DiCaprio’s troubles begin with the much trailed grizzly bear attack scene, which is almost as painful to watch despite the slightly jarring visual effects.


There are strong performances from the rest of the cast including a mumbling Tom Hardy, innocent Will Poulter and an upright Domnhall Gleeson. I am a big fan of all these actors especially Hardy, but this DiCaprio’s film. However DiCaprio wil have to share the honours with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who looks favourite to win the Oscar hatrick after success on Gravity and Birdman.


This film was made for a cinema experience. My most frequent gripe when reviewing films is the recent trend of excessive running times. The Revenant is no different and would not suffer from shaving 20 minutes from its 2 hour 36 minute running time.


After seeing the film there will be a handful of shots that stick with you, there are so many stand-out moments that these will vary for each individual. Despite the thrilling landscapes, ice-cold vistas and grizzly spectacle the two that have stuck with me are both close-ups of DiCaprio’s face at pivotal moments in the film. One when he stares into the camera, his eyes telling the hidden story of the character’s pain, loss and triumph, whilst the other features his distressed breaths fogging up the shot.


This film deserves all the awards coming its way. It is not necessarily a masterpiece in storytelling but it doesn’t need to be. The visuals and DiCaprio’s performance tells a story that no script ever could.


This is a much more worthy film than Iñárritu’s Oscar winner Birdman, a film that got lost up its own backside whilst trying to send up Hollywood. The only thing stopping Iñárritu from winning the best director Oscar is the fact he won last year.


Do not go expecting complex plot, but immerse yourself in the vistas and scenery. It is not a film you will watch again in a hurry, but the imagery will stick you long after the credits roll.



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