The Revenant (Film Review)

Last night I went down to the Odeon in Norwich for their monthly Screen Unscreen event that lets you see a film for a fiver with the only catch being that you won’t know what you are about to see until the title card appears on the screen. Even though I read the clues and saw peoples comments I had absolutely no idea that I was about to watch ‘The Revenant’ and when it appeared on screen there were cheers from the packed out audience.

Read on but beware there may be spoilers.

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The Revenant is the story of a frontiersman named Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s within the American frontier when an attack by native warriors led by Elk Dog (Duane Howard) forces them to return home, Hugh has to use everything he knows in order to survive. Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) who also played Bill Weasley in the harry Potter series leads the company  that also includes John FitzGerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter)  and I have to say that I really enjoyed watching the interactions between these characters.

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When the film started I wasn’t entirely sure of the significance of what I was seeing but it does pay off later on in the film as we learn more about the characters that this story revolves around and we see the struggles that they go through. The initial attack by the native warriors was expertly crafted to set off a dramatic chain of events that would see Hugh Glass struggle for survival in a quest to return back home after the animal pelts they had collected were stashed and he was brutally attacked by a grizzly bear.

The use of language and subtitles was an interesting decision that sees the audience become immersed in the world that has been created by Alejandro González Iñárritu who also directed Birdman which was one of my favourite films of 2015. Another thing that was good about The Revenant was that the setting was as brilliant as it was harsh and the places where there action took place were so stunning that I almost got distracted. There were several moments where important things were happening and I almost missed them because I was focusing to much on the beautiful vistas.

Several moments in this film make you jump or force you want to look away and I was impressed by just how much this film got to me and one of the most brutal moments was when Hugh was mauled by a bear. The fight was incredible to watch and even though I knew that he was going to survive it, the struggle was real and the pain he was going through was very believable. The characters journeys were already in motion by this time by this pivotal moment saw the story shift from a group dynamic to a solo struggle for survival with the Captain taking most of the men that were left on ahead while John FitzGerald and Bridger stayed behind to help Hugh.

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Within this film there is also the subplot from the perspective of Elk Dog who is looking for his daughter believing that she is with the company of Captain Andrew Henry and I thought it was interesting that we got to see both sides to the story. What was good about this subplot was that it gave us a greater understanding of the motivation behind their actions and led to some development in the main storyline but it would have been cool to have seen a little bit more from this story.

Meanwhile Hugh Glass struggles to make progress on his journey home while also trying to deal with the loss of his son and I was intrigued by the use of flashbacks to tell more of their story as it also helped to understand his motivation to continue. What I liked about this part of the film is that his recovery takes time and that the struggles he goes through are believable if not just a little bit exaggerated but it certainly does feel real and very raw. Leonardo DiCaprio puts in an incredible performance throughout this film and goes above and beyond to show just how difficult and dangerous this environment is for anyone, let alone someone who has been grievously injured by a grizzly bear.

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Tom Hardy puts in an incredible performance as John FitzGerald, a man that loathes Hugh Glass leaving him to die and forcing Bridger to go along with it. The interactions between John FitzGerald and Bridger as he attempts to justify what he has done are dramatic and give you a greater sense of their characters and why they have done what they have done. The fact that he comes into conflict with Hugh is not surprising but I do like they way they handled it and I am glad that they get to duke it out in the end.

Story wise this film works really well and I can’t fault the casting at all, these actors work very well together and I like the progression that they go through and in particular the performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Duane Howard. There also some interesting scenes involving the french but they are mostly there to advance the overall plot and have very little development of their own but then again I guess that they don’t really need it. The ending work

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Odeon’s Screen Unscreen has given me the chance to see this film, a film that I might not have seen on my own but one that I enjoyed nonetheless. The Revenant was an incredible film that looked and sounded amazing, it is the second film I have enjoyed from Alejandro González Iñárritu and if you get a chance to see this or any of his work then I would highly recommend doing so as I am sure you will enjoy it. Also if you have yet to check out Odeon Screen Unscreen then I would recommend doing that as well as all of the films that I have seen as a part of it have been exceptionally good and at a fiver they are also very good value.

 

 

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