“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe... keep breathing.”
The cinematography in The Revenant is consistently outstanding. A seat in the front row of the cinema will allow you the perfect vantage point to naturally crane your neck as most shots are captured very close to the ground and allow the lean elongated trees in Louisiana coppices to stretch up to the heavens above the cast. Birds symbolically watch over the landscape. Herds of animals flock around on demand. Trees shudder on demand. The clouds move beautifully as it choreographed with a computer mouse.
In what was publicised as a gritty shoot that stretched the resilience of the cast and crew, there are still a surprising number of special effects. At times The Revenant looks more like a hyper-reality video game than a movie with characters dropping all around during the half hourly visceral battles with their prolonged shots emphasising the blood and gore as much as the bravery and determination. (Though Macbeth would beat The Revenant if there was an Oscar for blood-spurting.) The totally unexpected stunt with the horse close to the two hour mark is breathtakingly brilliant.
“You all have stolen everything from us. Everything! The land. The animals.”
“I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already.”The Revenant is unbearably long. Each scene is allowed to stumble along with fifteen or so minutes as the next chapter of grisly survival conflict unfolds. Glass’ resurrection – a third of the way through the film, so that’s not much of a spoiler – is rather unbelievable, as is his avoidance of hypothermia. In the end DiCaprio plays a combination of Bond, Bourne and Bear Grylls that allows his body to be continually punished while he finds nutrition in lichen and animal carcasses to sustain him. Hardy plays Fitzpatrick more like a pirate than a hunter.
There’s no doubting the effort that went into the production: real blood, much sweat (and shivering) and plenty of tears. It might have been possible to overlook the absence of empathy built up with the audience if the film had been cut to ninety minutes. But as a 156 minute long slog, I can’t ignore the fact that director Alejandro González Iñárritu gave me no reason to care whether Glass lives or dies, and no reason to care whether Fitzgerald gets his comeuppance. I should be thankful that the final snowy manhunt wasn’t made into a second film.
A lot of people are going to love The Revenant. But be warned: by the end of this film your bladder will be bursting, your stomach rumbling and your fingernails noticeably longer. (Don’t combine those last two and bite your nails during the film!)
The Revenant is being screened in the QFT until Thursday 28 as well as Odeon, Omniplex, Moviehouse and numerous other cinemas!