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The Revenant

(Alejandro G. Iñárritu)

"I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already."

Fifteen minutes into the film, right after the Native attack that opens the story, two people next to me got up and left the theatre. It was about ten minutes after that that I looked over to my wife, she seemed bored out of her mind. As the credits rolled, I asked her what she thought. She went on to list off all her problems with the film, mainly the length and how 'boring' she found it. I on the other hand, found it utterly visceral in the unrelenting grittiness that bathed over my eyeballs.

After a vicious bear attack, Hugh Glass is left battered and beaten. His men try their best to help transport him back to their settlement, yet the harsh environments and tracking Natives on their heels make it near impossible. Three men, including his son, decide to stay behind with him, while the others venture forward. One of those men is Fitzgerald, who only volunteers due to the promise of extra money when they return. Fed up with waiting, Fitzgerald takes matters into his own hands, leaving Glass behind to die. Fueled by revenge, Glass is determined to stay alive, crawl 200 miles and kill the man responsible for leaving him in the dirt.

There's been a lot of talk about the behind the scenes drama surrounding this film. Multiple crew members quit mid production over the shooting conditions, which included harsh cold weather, dangerous stunts and only using natural light. The trials and tribulations of those who created this film, benefits us, the audience. The film is absolutely gorgeous and should undoubtably win Lubezki a third straight Oscar for the cinematography, a first in the Academy's history. There were multiple moments where I simply sat in awe at some of the beautifully painted pieces of nature that both Lubezki and Iñárritu give us. There were many times during this film that I felt like I was watching a Malick film, which makes sense since Lubezki shot The New World, which feels similar to The Revenant.

There's been a lot of buzz around Leonardo DiCaprio's performance, how it might finally earn him that alluding Oscar statue. Honestly, he deserves it. The man ate raw meat and he's a damn vegetarian. Most of his performance, which is brutally savage, has him fighting for his life. He doesn't say much, it's hard to talk after having your throat slashed by a bear. DiCaprio always delivers great performances in my opinion, this one took him to his utter limits. It's hard to see another performance this year that deserves it more. I pass equal praise to Tom Hardy who stars as Fitzgerald, the "villain" of the picture. Hardy always seems to disappear into his roles, this one is no different. He's equal parts menacing and rough. DiCaprio is strong and you need just as strong a performance to support him, Hardy does this in spades.

I'm sure there are people out there that will have the same reaction as my wife. The film isn't perfect, it has some issues. There are numerous sequences that showcase DiCaprio's dead wife, these elements stall the already lengthy film. Had these sequences been cut out completely, or even down to one scene, it would have helped significantly. The film clocks in just under two and a half hours. That is a long film about a fur trapper slowly making his way across some rough terrain. Add on top of that the long take shots that Iñárritu loves to show off and you have yourself a film that feels long. Iñárritu loves to showoff his fancy camera work, he did this almost obnoxiously with Birdman a film I did like. He does it again here, sometimes to great effect, sometimes to annoyance. The camera gets so close to the actors at times that their heavy breathing literally fogs up the lens of the camera. It takes you out of the experience and reminds you, this is a film....

...but what a film it is.