Film Review: The Revenant

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In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald. Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.

For anyone that has read my previous reviews, you will know how much I love Leonardo DiCaprio’s work. The man is a pure genius, seriously there is no other actor like him. If you haven’t read my other review on the genius that is Leo Dicaprio here is a link:

https://cinematicmind.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/the-genius-that-is-leonardo-dicaprio/

So let me just start by saying that I wasn’t intending to watch The Revenant. I know as a film nerd and Leo lover why wouldn’t I watch it? But I’ve talked about it in other posts: it’s hard for me to watch movies that are so real and harsh. I get too immersed in the story whenever I’m watching a film and movies that are always nominated for the big awards tend to be super harsh and real.

That being said, I knew I’d have to watch this film for a few reasons: I heard from other sources that this film was something else, something on an entirely other level; I heard that while Leo is never anything short of extraordinary, that he is even greater than words can express in this film, and that this might be the one that finally gets him his long overdue, well earned Oscar; also, I found out that this movie was filmed with only natural light. If you know anything about me (which I’m assuming you do because you’ve found this blog post, and hopefully viewed my own photographic work), you’ll know how much I love natural light and great landscapes. Which brings me to the final reason I knew I had to watch this film… the cinematography. From the trailer alone I saw the most amazing landscapes captured in the most beautiful lighting… I wanted to be the one who captured the amazing shots within this film. So I knew. I knew I’d have to watch The Revenant.

My friend and I agreed to watch it together because we were both scared. I mean if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know why, and if you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

 

I mean there’s a bear attack for crying out loud, not to mention numerous killings. So my friend and I watched the movie, and if you don’t have time to read this entire review, let me just say this:

By the time the film finished I felt exhausted. Like not just emotionally; I felt physically exhausted. That may not sound good, or like I enjoyed the film, but I mean that in the best possible way. This film is filled with SO much action and trauma, and the resiliency of Hugh Glass (Leo DiCaprio) was just absolutely inspiring. His will to live is just something else… if it had been me, I feel like I would’ve just given up and died. While it is not normally my type of movie, I have to say that this is probably one of the greatest films that I have ever seen. To fully understand where I’m coming from you should probably read my breakdown.

Okay so now for the breakdown:

Acting: 

Leonardo DiCaprio is just so… well he’s really … I mean the way he just…

See I can’t. There are just no words for just how unbelievably amazing and flawless Leonardo DiCaprio is in this movie… in all movies. Nothing I say will ever do him justice. He doesn’t even talk for a good portion of this film and it’s still the best acting I’ve ever seen. Seriously, if he doesn’t get an oscar for this role, I fear for the academy because people are going to be outraged, I definitely will be. I will be writing the academy a very strongly worded letter! Anyway, Leo is pure brilliance. I’ll never be able to understand how he immerses himself into the roles he does and make it look so effortless.

He’s just a mad genius. And all I could possibly give him as a review is ✔️✔️✔️. That’s the equivalent of a slow clap standing ovation from me.

okay so the rest of the acting: amazing! Tom Hardy is unreal. But anyone who knows his acting will know that already. He’s just a beast. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter are awesome as well. They both do an American accent amazingly, and they just rounded out the cast so well. I found that Will brought this sense of innocence to the film, which helps humanize the situations they were in.

Soundtrack/Sound Editing:  It complimented the story so well! There’s this drum beat that becomes a constant soundtrack throughout the film and it just creates this amazing suspense and anxiety, it’s unreal! It reminded me of jumanji in a way, where the beat would get faster and just build the anticipation… I couldn’t handle it!

Screenplay/Writing: While this film is based on true events, there was an added family element to the film version, which I think gave Leo’s character more justice for seeking revenge and just added to the human element of the story. The film also has flashbacks, which I found helped bring the story together. Throughout the story there would be voiceover from the past, and it would weave in and out of the scenes. It was really beautifully edited, and I saw the voiceover as the platform for bringing the past into the present and it further helped get across the major theme of survival.

Production Design: Set Design/Makeup/Costumes: holy smokes! Okay you know when I said (wrote) that I become immersed in films and can’t get out, which is why I have a hard time watching harsh/realistic films?! A lot of that is due to production and setting and makeup and costumes etc. And this film did an amazing job! I literally thought I had been transported to the 1800’s and was trapped in this story. It freaked me out a little bit (…a lot)! I found myself shivering when Leo had ice forming on his face and stuck in his beard and don’t even get me started on the scene with the horse or the scene with the bison/buffalo whatever. I can’t.

That brings me to special effects… and when I say that I mean the bear attack. Holy Shit. Pardon my language but fuck! That scene blew me away!

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I was literally on the edge of my seat and I could feel the pain.. I felt horrible for watching it and not calling for help because it felt that real! I read up on how they did that scene and I’m still confused and amazed! ✔️✔️ and ✔️

Directing: Alejandro González Iñárritu. While I didn’t see his film “Birdman” (mostly because it looked weird as hell), I’ve got to say this guy is a breath of fresh air. He is friggen brilliant and the combination of him and Leo is everything. I watched an interview with him and the way he spoke about film was so beautiful. I feel like he just attempts (and succeeds) with these approaches to film, cinematography-wise, and he doesn’t think it’s anything amazing but it is. It’s sad that people think its amazing to do long panning shots (because that is was a film camera can do), and to decide to shoot in natural light (because that’s how we see life everyday), but that’s where we’ve gotten to in the film/media world. We’re so used to the high tech world – we expect CGI everything and millions of computer graphics, so when we see the original form of film we’re blown away by the brilliance of its simplicity. Alejandro is bringing back the basics and reminding viewers what it is about the world of film that makes it so magical, and boy do I wish I could watch him work. I applaud you sir ✔️✔️✔️.

okay and finally,

Cinematography:

okay picture here fireworks going off – the biggest mind blowing display of fireworks you could ever imagine with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” playing in the background (the exciting part) … that’s basically what happened in my mind when the movie started/was playing/finished.

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I’m a photographer okay… I view the world through photographic eyes  and I view the world through a cinematic mind (hahaha, athankyou), so when I see other things captured and presented with an emphasis on the cinematic/photographic I can’t even explain it, I get all giddy and the inner nerd in me starts doing cartwheels, jumping up and down and dancing (like Leo does in Wolf of Wall Street)!

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I get the same way when I am among an amazing landscape with my camera in my hand. It makes me wish I was famous, or Queen or something – someone with the power to give out awards, like “here. you deserve this for being beautiful and breathtaking, and also for having the brilliant genius mind to envision it/ capture it/ show it to the world” ✔️✔️✔️ and ✔️. The Revenant is captured so brilliantly and beautifully, and I’m mostly talking about the fact that it was shot in all natural light. The scenery is so gorgeous I want to cry. It’s just such a nice compliment to the journey Leo’s character goes through and it provides this contrast to the harshness of the world that they lived in back then and the storyline itself. The landscapes – these pure scenes of snow covered mountains and trees, rivers and land – become the setting for which Hugh Glass is reborn, and finds his way back to not just civilization, but to life.

In an interview I watched, Leo explained that they only shot for a certain amount of time each day (something like an hour and a half), at the same time every day. So they would use the rest of the day to rehearse like a play and get every movement down perfectly because they had very little time to capture it. I think that decision just made the movie. It made this film less of a film and more of an experience, which is why I felt so exhausted by the time the film ended. I felt as if I had just witnessed this unbelievable journey and that I had been there physically to experience it all. While it was hard to watch, I’m glad I did because I don’t think I’ll ever experience something like this again. Also, this movie is going to clean up at the Oscars, and it absolutely deserves to.

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Now I’m exhausted all over again from reliving the experience to write this! So here are some gifs of how Leo would react if I got to give out the Oscars this year:

 

First:

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waiting in suspense…

 

Then I would be like, “The Revenant for best film; Best directing to Alejandro González Iñárritu; Best cinematography to The Revenant” and Leo would be all like:

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and finally, I’d be like, “and the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role goes to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant” and Leo would be all like:

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and then I’d smile and he’d accept his award and then we’d be married and live happily ever after.

 

… it could totally happen.

Anyways, have a fabulous week and you should all watch the Oscars on February 28th so see if Leo finally wins his deserved Oscar! 🙂

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