Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has scooped the Oscars before, but is his latest epic, The Revenant, worthy of the hype? Movie: The Revenant Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Even before its release, rumours were flying thick and fast about lauded director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film starring five-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio. They ranged from the surprising (that Leo slept in an animal carcass) to the downright insane (that Leo – and I twitch while typing this – was raped by a bear).
The first is true. The actor did sleep in several animal carcasses. The second is one of those ridiculous myths bred on the internet that spread like wildfire.
Then there was the question everyone wanted to know: Would Leo finally get the Oscar? His lack of a golden statuette (and the lengths he will go to in order to get one) is such a hot topic that it’s pretty much a meme now, with presidents and pundits weighing in on this Important Life Question.
It was perhaps a combination of these rumours, titbits and the Oscar question that led to the film toppling Star Wars: The Force Awakens (the highest-grossing film in US history) in its opening week. Is The Revenant worthy of the hype? Well, it’s based on the true story of Hugh Glass, an 1800s American frontiersman bent on payback after his comrades left him for dead when he was attacked by a bear.
Glass is an infinitely interesting historical character, but this doesn’t elevate the plot to anything more than a revenge story.
Is DiCaprio good in it? For sure, and you can’t doubt the guy’s commitment to the role. But there are times when Leo’s relentless slog and near-death moments become so relentless I almost rolled my eyes out of my head. Yes, in real life, Glass did survive the bear attack. But did he (spoiler alert) really survive being flung down rapids and falling off a cliff? Did he really save a kidnapped Arikara princess and escape Native Americans? It was like watching Die Hard, except more pretentious. I might still carry a residual annoyance towards Iñárritu, I must concede, after his previous work, the Oscarwinning and oh-so-precious Birdman.
But don’t take my word for it. Audiences are bound to find something in The Revenant that interests them: the magnificent vista shots of snow-capped landscapes are breathtaking and I appreciated the critical portrayal of American pioneers’ mistreatment of the country’s indigenous inhabitants.
While The Revenant isn’t a masterpiece, in my opinion, it’s an interesting adventure film bent on showing you the meaning of human resilience. And yes, Leo is bound to get the Oscar for this one. He sure as hell had better – before he kills himself trying.
GRIN AND BEAR IT