The Revenant – Feeling Sick Has Never Felt So Good

Well, I promised this on Instagram after I saw The Revenant last night (35 years after people in the U.S) and with me neglecting discussions of Creed and The Hateful Eight in the past couple of weeks, I felt I had to put this one out there. The discussions on Creed and The Hateful Eight are coming though…anyway…let’s get into this one shall we…

As you can probably gather by the title of this post, The Revenant did make me feel quite ill and walking out of the cinema after it had finished, I found myself struggling to speak. Now, being speechless at a film usually would excite you and make you feel the need to watch that film again very soon…it would make you feel as though what you’ve just watched was an incredible experience…that last part is certainly true.

Let’s get the bluntness out of the way first…I loved The Revenant. I really did. I have to applaud it for making me feel that way because I have never come across a film before (and believe me, if you know me, you’ll know I can sit through pretty much anything unfazed), that made me feel quite like The Revenant made me feel. I wouldn’t call it my favourite film of the year simply because it didn’t particularly make me feel happy…but that’s not what it was for…that’s what The Force Awakens was for and that’s why I’ll probably watch TFA 400 more times before I’ll watch The Revenant 3 times…but don’t misunderstand that into thinking that I didn’t like this film because that would be completely wrong.

Now I’ve been saying that Mad Max should win Best Cinematography at the awards but that was before I had seen this film…I had only seen stills and trailers. The Revenant is the…yes the…most beautiful film of the year and is absolutely stunning to watch. Each shot is a work of art and to see it on the big screen is just mesmerising. I’m a huge lover of long takes and The Revenant has some truly stunning ones…not least towards the beginning of the film when a group of Pawnee Native Americans attack the camp where Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Hugh Glass and co. are stationed. It was incredible to watch.

The word ‘visceral’ doesn’t come close to describing this film and neither does the word ‘brutal’…I felt every bit of pain that DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass went through and it was very tough to watch at some points. But having said that, and as I write this now, I can’t get those scenes out of my mind and just how amazing they were. Few films have ever made me feel so viscerally about the characters before and, like I say, I have to applaud it for that.

I haven’t even mentioned the whole ‘shooting in natural light’ thing and I just think that that is incredible work on director Alejandro Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki‘s part. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful.

I think you’ve probably guessed by now how good I think this film looked so let’s move on to the performances and why not start with the man himself. Leo DiCaprio is sensational as Hugh Glass…truly. He says very little but he doesn’t have to for you, as an audience, to feel so much for him. His fight with a grizzly bear, his self-made recovery from horrific injuries (shown in horrible detail by the way) and especially his ending fight with Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald are all so brutal to watch and yet you can’t take your eyes away from them. A big change in performance to what we’re used to seeing of Leo but my god, just give him the Oscar now. Tom Hardy, as I mentioned, plays John Fitzgerald, the antagonist of the film and plays him with such ferocious intensity and, it has to be said, a somewhat strange accent. Hardy is an odd actor for me because, while I really do like him, his voice in some of his more major films just seems strange. He does give a very good performance in this though and it’s clear why he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Domhnall Gleeson, or as we might as well call him, Mr. 2015 is also very good as Captain Henry, the leader the band of frontiersmen who reluctantly leaves Glass’ side when they have to journey with him after suffering the horrific bear attack and Will Poulter also delivers an excellent dramatic performance as Bridger, a younger member who is tricked by John Fitzgerald into believing there to be no hope for Hugh Glass, despite Bridger wanting to help Glass all he can.

Now to the brutality and the effects…which are truly stunning. Now I’ve mentioned scenes where Glass gets mauled by a bear and a very intense and bloody fight between Glass and Fitzgerald at the end of the film but there are plenty more moments throughout The Revenant which are brilliantly brutal. There is a scene where Glass sets fire to a wound on his throat in order to burn it and close it up. There are also many close up shots of horrific detail of wounds which, because they look so real, unlike something like The Hateful Eight which is far more ‘over-the-top’, they are very difficult to look at and I know they’re just practical effects but the effects work really was stunning too.

Now because I usually watch films for enjoyment, I was thankful that I did manage to find myself having a light hearted moment to myself during probably one of the more horrific scenes. Glass and his horse fall off a small cliff and into a tree. Glass of course survives, but his horse does not and we see the horse had been decapitated. Glass then is forced to cut away the insides of the horse (which we of course see in more brutal detail) and spend the night inside it to keep warm…do you get where I’m going with this yet?? Well because it reminded me so much of Luke Skywalker and the Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back, I couldn’t help myself from quoting that entire scene whilst watching Leo DiCaprio nearly freeze to death…I’m not ashamed at myself either.

The major things I took away from this one though were the stunning performances, the outstanding cinematography and the gripping story of a man who, after being left for dead and watching his own son die, fights for survival like nothing I’ve ever seen before and enacts his revenge upon the man who left him and killed his son.

The Revenant is a real slow burn and a phenomenal piece of cinema, one of the most intense and brutally beautiful films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching…and I use no exaggeration in saying that. I’m still somewhat speechless. This one won’t leave me for a long time…just outstanding!!

Be sure to let me know your thoughts on The Revenant in the comments and check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

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