Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Revenant

          The latest film from director Alejandro G. Innarittu is based on the true story of Hugh Glass, a trapper and guide in the 1800's. The story is one of survival and revenge. Mr. Glass is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, in what has to be the most physically demanding role of his career. Mauled by a bear and incredibly wounded, he is at first kept alive by the other trappers in his party but when it becomes clear he is dragging them down and a burden, they leave him behind to die watched over by his son and two of the other trappers. 

          Tom Hardy plays Fitzgerald, one of the trappers tending to Glass who commits two terrible acts that are the catalyst for the remainder of the film. Mr. Hardy makes a worthy villain and adversary. The film also co-stars Domhnall Gleason as Captain Andrew Henry, the leader of the group forced to make the tough decision to leave Glass behind. Both Mr. Hardy and Mr. Gleason have been the most ubiquitous actors of 2015 but they deserve all the work they are getting.

         The cinematography is outstanding, framing the beautiful winter wilderness where the film takes place. Written in part by Mr. Innarittu, certain elements of Mr. Glass's story are fictionalized for effect to create a stronger emotional bond to the character. Mr. DiCaprio has little dialog but his physical acting skills are remarkable as we watch him mauled, beaten, bruised, nearly drowned, almost frozen, fall off a cliff, as well as horrible acts of man testing him to his limits. To say he earns his salary on this film is an understatement.

          Mr. Innarittu interweaves his narrative with beautiful shots of nature. Cuts to streams, rivers, treetops, clouds, mountains take place throughout the film to remind us of the beauty of nature and man's small place in it. However, it drags the story out longer than necessary. While a technical and acting marvel, the film could easily have been 20 minutes shorter and still have the impact Mr. Innarittu ultimately achieves.

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