Leonardo di Caprio is a hunter for an American (except for one brit) group of fur traders who when running from a perusing group of natives is critically injured by a grizzly bear. Along with Leo’s son (Forrest Goodluck) Will Poulter and Tom Hardy are tasked with looking after him until the main group returns. However it soon becomes obvious that Tom never had any intention of looking after Leo. Left for dead, Leo must literally drag himself out of his own grave and back to civilisation.
Will this be the film that finally gives Leo that Oscar? Yes. Mostly because I think this is the first time that he has properly deserved it. Sure he’s always been good, but I don’t think he’s ever been the best out of either the nominations or in general. But this year it’s his to lose really. None of the other nominations stand much of a chance. It is a very good performance, and crucially it’s the kind of performance Oscar voters like. It’s a performance that see Leo suffer a lot. He eats raw liver, he sleeps in a dead horse, he falls down a waterfall, he gets mauled by a bear, he gets betrayed, he gets stabbed, he falls off a cliff, he gets stabbed again, he freezes a little, he gets buried alive, he gets stabbed some more. He goes through a lot does our Leo.
But this isn’t just Leo’s show. Tom Hardy and Will Poulter both put in very strong performances and actually have a possibly more interesting narrative path than Leo does. Showing a tale of two different kinds of weakness, weakness of body and weakness of character. Elsewhere Domhall Gleeson is very strong in what small screen time he has, as is Forrest Goodluck. But the real star of this film is Emmanuel Lubezki the cinematographer. He was the best part of Gravity, he was the best part of Birdman and now he is the best part of The Revenant. His extraordinary use of longshots and swirling camera movements ensure that you are completely lost in the drama of the film. You feel as if you are a character watching and experiencing everything. You too are trapped beneath a slobbering bear, you too are crawling within a dead gutted horse. Without this sensational use of the camera The Revenant would be a solid action thriller, but with it the film becomes something quite special.
It’s not perfect I don’t think, it is too long and because of this sometimes watching the film too closely mirrors Leo’s experiences of waiting out storms and other such weather complications. I felt like the film started off at such a sprint it just couldn’t keep it up for the whole two and a half hours, so took a little breather during the middle third. It does eventually pick up speed again, but it never does match its opening pace. I think had the film’ve been maybe just under two hours this pace could have remained more consistent.
Overall, The Revenant is a fantastic cinematic experience and Leo does finally deserve that Oscar.