The Revenant is ground-breaking cinema and an epic tale of survival

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
The Revenant is ground-breaking cinema and an epic tale of survival

The Revenant is gritty, gory, harrowing and brilliant – and singles out Alejandro Inarritu as a filmmaking genius.

Just a year after bringing us the batty and wonderful Birdman, the Mexican director has done it again. But this violent revenge tale is a very different type of film.  

Brutal bear attacks, sleeping in animal carcasses to stay warm, eating raw offal – leading man Leo DiCaprio certainly can’t be accused of ringing in his performance here. 

DiCaprio goes through the mill in  his powerful, in-the-moment fight for survival, and I’m predicting a well-earned and long-overdue Oscar for him next month. 

The film is based loosely on the story of hunter and explorer Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) who worked with a team of men in the harsh and lawless American wilderness in the early 1800s. 

It’s a place where violent battles against native American Indians and rival groups of hunters are common. 

When he’s brutally attacked by a bear and suffers horrific injuries, the head of his expedition, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson – excellent) struggles with bringing him across harsh snowy terrain as he fights for his life. 

Eventually, he tasks two of his colleagues, John Fitzgerald (Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Poulter) with staying by his side until he dies, so that he can have a Christian burial. 

But Glass clings to and fights to stay alive – and the decisions they make will have huge repercussions for all of the men. 

Essentially a tale about living in the moment and survival at all costs, The Revenant is a ground-breaking two and a half hours of cinema, an experience quite unlike anything on the big screen before. 

It’s a tough watch – some scenes are graphically violent and you endure every sense of cold, pain, fear and tension as you go through it with these characters. 

But boy, are the rewards abundant. Its immersive quality makes it a gripping experience, as thrilling as it is exhausting. And this story of revenge unfolds in a spectacular way – it’s one of the best-looking films I’ve ever seen.

That’s all very admirable, but DiCaprio gives the film its heart and soul, and it’s hard to imagine any other actor of his generation delivering such a convincing and committed performance. 

The Revenant (16) 5/5 Stars