The Revenant Film Review


If you’re getting sick of twee and cheesy Christmas films and fancy a bit more action, The Revenant is definitely one to snap you out of your festive cheer. Fast-paced, compelling, gruesome at times but with brilliant performances, this film is like nothing you will have seen before.

From Oscar-winning director Alejandro Iñárritu, best known for Birdman, this is an ambitious thriller that follows the legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who is left for dead by his hunting team after a violent attack by a grizzly bear. The film follows his perilous journey through the snow where his survival skills are put to the test as his vengeance leads him to find those who betrayed him. Fuelled by vengeance, determination and the love for his family, Glass has to do whatever it takes to survive.

This tragic story of abandonment, violence, pain, grief and betrayal makes for a dark and twisted film that keeps you intrigued while wincing at the brutality of the scenes. The rumours swirling about how difficult it was to make or act in this film will come as no surprise when you see how treacherous the setting is and the amount of physical and emotional torment that is repeatedly thrown at the characters and the audience.

The standout performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy makes the plot so believable that it forces you to become emotionally invested in the outcome of the characters. However, in ensuring the characters stay true to the original novel by Michael Punke, as well as the setting and history of the plot, the accents, while convincing, can be difficult to decipher. As a result, even the most stirring speeches and conversations can become confused or lost so you often need to let the action do the talking. This isn’t hard to do as the events tend to speak for themselves as you immerse yourself in the harsh world of their journey along the Missouri River.

Between struggling to understand what they are saying at times and dealing with the sheer violence and gore, this is not an easy film to watch but it is worth sticking with. The Revenant is also inspired by true events that make the pain and suffering hit closer to home when you consider the personal grief Glass suffered and the determination and love for his family that keeps him barely surviving. The impressive performances force you to feel their pain alongside them and drag you through each betrayal, fight, attack and voyage.

The quality of the directing and cinematography creates a visceral experience for the viewers by immersing you to the point where you too are exposed to the elements and the dangers of their world. The raw emotion and the focus on the scenery puts you right out in the relentless snow with threats of flooding, starvation, animal attack and men with guns.

This American epic western film is an exhausting and brutal journey that is certainly not for the faint-hearted but is filmed and portrayed so expertly and convincingly that it’s not one you want to miss.

5/5 stars.

Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.

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