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Movie Monday: The Revenant

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Revenant
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Genre: Western, Epic
Running time: 156 minutes
Released: 2015
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

The Revenant is based on the true story of the legendary American frontiersman Hugh Glass and his grueling tale of survival and retribution. The film is every bit as harsh as the rumors about its filming conditions were, and the cast’s suffering seems to have been worth it. The Revenant captures the splendor of nature and the baseness of human nature.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is leading a group of trappers through the harsh terrain of the northern Louisiana Purchase when he is mauled by a bear. He survives, but is later abandoned by his companions. This betrayal along with another act of brutality by Fitzgerald pushes Glass to survive and get his revenge. The film follows Glass as he forges his way through the unforgiving winter to the American base.

Parts of the film felt awkward, most notably some incredibly weird scenes with Glass’s dead wife. I was not quite sure if the shots were meant to be flashbacks or just visions that Glass was seeing, but they felt really out of place in the film. In addition, there were other scenes with a small pyramid of bones that were also really out of place. These scenes seem designed to give a sort of spirituality to Glass or some kind of connection to the Native Americans he meets, but the film never went further with his spirituality. His connection to the Natives was superficial at best.

The character of Hawk, Glass’s son, felt really underdeveloped. We were presented a basic father and son bond between Hawk and Glass that was never developed beyond Hawk being loyal enough to stand by his father when he was recovering from the bear attack. Hawk’s character was incredibly stereotypical, being the sort of rebellious teenage boy. His character did not serve much purpose in the film beyond giving Glass another connection to Native Americans, since Hawk was half Native American, as well as providing Glass a motive to seek revenge on Fitzgerald.

Despite these flaws, there was a beautiful simplicity to the film. The film had strong moments driven by amazing cinematography. The shots of the wilderness were immersing, drawing the viewers into the beauty of nature. They brought a mysterious and beautiful yet harsh and treacherous feel in the nature, which really captured the tone of the film perfectly. Leonardo DiCaprio gave a great performance as the film’s lead actor, filling in the role of Glass perfectly. Although there were few spoken lines due to Glass’s injuries, which lasted for most of the film, his performance captured the nature of the film nicely.

Overall, I did not think The Revenant was a perfect film. While I can see how others could love it, I found it to be good but not great. I would recommend this film to fans of Leonardo DiCaprio. This could possibly be the film with which he finally gets his Oscar.

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