I saw The Revenant on its opening weekend in the UK in a sold out screening at a Brighton cinema. Why is this important? Well two reasons…
- I hadn’t seen so much buzz around a film on its opening weekend since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
- Leonardo DiCaprio’s status as THE A-list Hollywood actor is now so commanding, people will go watch a film purely because he is the leading star in it. Of course it also helps that he is nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Actor” category at this year’s Academy Awards. Will he win tonight? Follow all the action from the Oscars here
For the first forty-five minutes of this film I was distracted by the oncoming waves of traffic entering the cinema late to watch Tom Hardy and his southern drawl clash with the enigmatic DiCaprio. I couldn’t understand whether my distraction was down to the cinema attendant’s shining torchlight or whether the film was having difficulty drawing me into its narrative. This soon stopped…
A scene with a bear
Before The Revenant was released, at every press release, with every promo clip shown, I was told “the bear scene, the bear scene is horrifyingly and will haunt you”. Without giving too much away, all I can say is it was genuinely gruesome, which is a testament to the way DiCaprio portrays his power struggle with the might of the bear. This scene really sets the tone for the rest of the movie however I still can’t understand why there was such a long preamble before this sequence which then smacks you in the face with a dose of “okay this film has my full attention”.
The Revenant was shot largely in Canada and Argentina and the landscape really acts as the backdrop to one of the narratives main themes. Loneliness encapsulates Hugh Glass played by DiCaprio, as he wanders through the arctic mountain ranges seeking revenge for the murder of his son. It’s clear that director Alejandro Iñárritu demands a lot from his acting elite as Glass’ struggles to overcome the harsh conditions and this in turn appears to inspire a captivating performance from Leonardo. According to this article from Vanity Fair, DiCaprio even ate raw bison liver.
Friend or foe?
Tom Hardy’s performance as John Fitzgerald is consistently menacing throughout but appeared somewhat conflicted. I felt Hardy was trying too hard to make his character a ‘jack of all trades, but a master of none’ and in doing so he did not make for a convincing villain of the times. In scenes with DiCaprio, Hardy appears to raise his game and become the archetypal villain we would expect his character to be but it is as if he is aware of the acting prowess he is facing. In the face off scenes between the pair DiCaprio steals every scene by undercutting the over-emphasised psychotic demeanour of his counterpart.
Overall, better performance from Hardy can be found as the title character in Bronson (2008) and as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) than here.
The Revenant: The Final Verdict
This has to be the year DiCaprio wins the Oscar doesn’t it? Not necessarily! Acting Legend Peter O’Toole received eight Oscar nominations throughout his long, successful career and never won once. This is DiCaprio’s sixth Oscar nomination and it’s arguably his best chance at winning one to date. Does his performance deserve the Oscar? I felt he carried the film with conviction and I’m beginning to see the raw acting talent shine through that I once saw in some of DiCaprio’s early films.
Credit must be given to director Iñárritu who conducts this film like a fine piece of orchestra winding its way to an epic climax. This film looks good, has a strong plot and will keep you vastly entertained for its long 156 minute running time (minus the opening thirty minutes). I’m expecting this film to scoop multiple awards and back-to-back Oscars for its director.