Friday, January 8, 2016
Review: The Revenant (2015)
'The Revenant' Will Keep Your Eyes Glued To The Screen
While a lot of those "Leo Oscarless" memes are often quite sad yet hilarious, after watching this film and the brilliant cinematography by Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, all I could think of was, "Poor Roger Deakins."
The Revenant is based on a true story about a fur trapper named Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is left for dead by his companions after being mauled by a bear. He then goes after one of them, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who not only buried him, but took the life of his son.
I'll start right off with the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. Lubezki might just win a 3rd Oscar in a row thanks to his work in this. He mainly focused on using natural lighting and it helped make the film seem like a moving painting. Especially considering how he uses long takes to focus on his actors as well as the real wilderness that surrounds them since they used real locations throughout. It made you feel like you were in the wilderness as well.
Next, I'll dive into the performances. I'm sure people are wondering: Could this be the one that gets Leo to the Oscar podium? Well, I certainly hope so. While he doesn't speak a lot of dialogue at first, it is a very physical performance. But when you look at his facial expressions when he's not speaking, you can sense the emotional scars he has on him and not just the ones on his body. I also want to give a major shoutout to Tom Hardy as the main villain. What makes his performance so three-dimensional is how he exudes a brooding and tough exterior yet when you look into his eyes, you can sense his sly, deceptive manner as well as his fear and cowardice.
I also thought the score by Ruyichi Sakamoto was masterfully done. The rather haunting yet soothing score really captured the feel of being taken into this unforsaken territory. That's what I loved so much about this film. It made you feel like you were there. You feel the cold wind, the heavy panting, the tension of the battle scenes, etc.. A lot of that is thanks to the bold efforts of director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. This was a bold, creative risk that took quite a while to come together since it had behind-the-scenes problems, but it really paid off.
While there were aspects that reminded me of the work of Terrence Malick with shots of nature and narration from the main character, I thought that Innaritu out-Malicked Malick because while Innaritu does a lot of visual storytelling like Malick does, he is able to incorporate enough dialogue and story so that the audience is given an idea of what the movie is about. Malick mainly gives the audience the "puzzle pieces," but we kind of have to put them all together since there isn't enough exposition.
Lastly, I'll get into the editing. Even though the film is about 2 and a half hours, editor Stephen Mirrione allows it to move at a slow but steady pace.
Overall, The Revenant is a visually striking masterpiece that kept my eyes glued to the screen thanks to the beautiful cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, the performances by the two main actors, the brisk editing, and the haunting score. It is quite an experience!