The Revenant, directed by Alejandro G Iñárritu, is being released one year after Iñárritu’s critically acclaimed Birdman, but the two films could not be more different. While Birdman provides commentary about art and filmmaking in the modern world, The Revenant is a return to a different time and setting, the wilderness of the American frontier in 1800, and features a brutish range of characters. The themes Iñárritu explores here are simpler – or at least less steeped in the more modern day problems of ego and personal identity. This is a story which Iñárritu takes his time to tell, but that will certainly captivate audiences.
The film follows Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a team of hunters, which includes his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), as they hunt animals for their skins. When Glass is mauled by a bear and left behind by his fellow hunters, a false climax is born and shortly followed by a more important peak. This scene sets Glass’s quest for revenge in motion, as well as the film’s slow denouement. Tom Hardy plays Glass’s adversary, John Fitzgerald, but is tremendously outshined by DiCaprio’s performance – could he finally win that Oscar?
Although Hugh Glass is often alone in the film, which features intimate shots of his recovery and the tactics he must implement to survive, he doesn’t seem affected by his mission or the lengths he must go to keep living. The major natural and human obstacles that come in his way act only as minor deterrents. As well as his perseverance, the small insights into Glass’s character show a conflicted moral compass.
The Revenant has many of the key components of a thriller: the film is littered with violent scenes and the main character’s motive is revenge. However, Iñárritu’s cinematic style tones down much of the overdone, tacky suspense and anticipation that almost always feature in this genre. The Revenant deserves to be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate both the scenery and DiCaprio’s performance, and it’s certainly exciting to have a must-see hit cinemas so early in the New Year.
The Revenant is released nationwide on 15th January 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Revenant here: