Review: Visceral brutality and visual panache are synonymous in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest outing, The Revenant. Over 2 hours and 30 minutes, this tale of wilderness parades a hell of visual grandiose and a roller-coaster of thrills—a beautiful piece of atrocious art.
Adapted from a partially real-life myth of Hugh Glass, written by Michael Punke, The Revenant is a story of a man who got mauled by a grizzly bear, got left for dead by his hunting crews, witnessed the murder of his only son, and crawled around hundred miles of only for one reason—settling up the score in a Klingon proverb manner: Revenge is a dish, better served cold.
The cold catastrophe opens with a suffocating cinematic poetry of Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in accordance with his past before escalating quickly in a promiscuous one-take scene of Arikara Indians tribesmen assaulting Captain Andrew Henry’s fur trading men. In a similar fashion to Iñárritu’s Oscar-winner Birdman, the scene was elegantly shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Oscar winner for Gravity & Birdman), who utilizes natural light to add the naturalness of the chaos and takes benefits from the broad, beautiful landscape to make it more pretentious.
It wasn’t long until the iconic scene arrives: DiCaprio’s Glass is being beautifully and brutally mauled by a grizzly bear for more than five minutes in a long, continuous scene. As it turns out, that visceral, ultra-violent scene is only a beginning of a journey to revenge.
Iñárritu might become this era’s Francis Ford Coppola; his ambition to make a grandiloquent work has never been easily quenched. Birdman is one clear-cut ambition of his visionary ambition; and The Revenant is Iñárritu’s Apocalypse Now at its core. Rumor has it the filming was as disaster as the story it attempts to depict—men vs nature (or their nature?). Yet, similar to Coppola’s disastrous hit, Iñárritu’s is going to be among the cinematic legacy for what it is.
The Revenant is also a proof that Iñárritu is an poignant story teller as he co-wrote it with Mark L. Smith in adapting a part of Michael Punke’s novel of the same title. The story might focus on survival and revenge and his hyper-realism approach is the keenest way to manifest it; yet, rumor has it again that it’s Iñárritu’s idea to put more surreal points to the story—making it less concise but more poetic, Malickian poetic. While Birdman is more prolix, The Revenant is more like an antithesis to it although it cannot wrap itself in a shorter duration. At long last, it’s an anti-climactic quintessence of Iñárritu’s artmanship; it’s possibly bigger than any of his works, only it’s not as clever as his original scripts or Guillermo Arriaga’s.
With all the idyll and panache, The Revenant is definitely a must-watch movie, with a note that the plot isn’t the only thing that matters: the experience—of visual and audio—is an integral part of it. Although flawed, The Revenant might still be a quintessence or, at least, a celebration of artmanship—possibly, Iñárritu, DiCaprio and Lubezki might respectively get remembered for what they’ve done here.
The Revenant (2015)
Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Thriller Written & Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu Co-written by: Mark L. Smith based in a novel by Michael Punke Starred by: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson Runtime: 156 mins Rated R
Image courtesy: Official Site