The Revenant is a beautiful, cold, dark experience; it is perhaps the purest representation of human suffering put to film. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu puts forward a filmically satisfying if empty experience, one with little subtext, one that is beautiful and above all highly visceral. However, despite my issues with the sparse nature of the narrative, this film does have some truly stand out performances, with Mr. DiCaprio in particular performing admirably. For me The Revenant is an expression of artistic and beautiful filmmaking, an expression that is constrained by a limited narrative, a pure filmic experience, and one for the filmy purists.
This film is beautiful, astoundingly so, in fact the degree of beauty that is expressed through truly artful composition and shooting. The cinematography truly exposes the barren harshness of the American wilderness, while retaining the regal beauty that the landscape allows. However there comes a point where the narrative is sacrificed for art within The Revenant, the cinematography becomes superfluous at one point, excessive icing on the cake if you will. Throughout the film cutting towards a shot of the sky is repeated ad nauseam and to an extent this damages the progression of the text; however it is pretty.
The performances produced in this film are outstanding, Hardy and DiCaprio are fantastic, personifying their individual parts, one an animalistic wounded hunter, the other duplicitous and scarred. In parts DiCaprio even becomes the bear that savaged him in the initial part of the movie, eating a raw Salmon, hibernating, and coring out a live horse to survive the cold. Hardy on the other hand plays his gruff, scarred and misanthropic role to a tee, acting with the selfishness that the role required, and adding justification to his unjustifiable actions, reflecting the ethnocentric paranoia’s that dogged America, now as then.
To say that this film will become a discursive piece is a cert; it is as visually stunning as it is void of subtext, perhaps that is deliberate. This film (The Revenant) is a visual masterpiece, with an effective, but limited story, highly Oscar worthy, but nowhere near the best film you will see this year. I would recommend seeing The Revenant, for the visceral story telling and astounding beauty of its presentation. However, for the average moviegoer The Revenant may move a little too slowly, and even too pretty for its own good. 7/10