Not a Movie Snob - The Revenant

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM

"The Tree of Death"

The Revenant

Movie Review by Griffintainment X

Some people think (I happen to be one of them) that you need to watch a movie twice before you’ve truly watched it once. Well, and this can be said for all of Inarritu's films, you really need to watch The Revenant at least thrice before you’ve watched it once. And a fourth viewing wouldn’t hurt while you’re at it, just to truly let it sink in. In that same regard, don’t come out of The Revenant on any particular viewing feeling you have a verdict before the credits have finished floating off into the ether. Like a good pot of stew, this film has to sizzle and simmer on the mind, allowing the flavors to meld to really bring out the true character of it.

The film is an exploration of many things, but chief among them is grief, loss, vengeance and the will to survive. It's not a film to be taken lightly. In fact, it's a film that exists, unapologetically, without a single humorous moment. It exists in bitter cold and heavy dark, thematically and physically, and is as gripping as it is challenging.

Much has been made of how difficult the film was to make. How much hardship the cast and crew were forced to endure to get this story to the screen. I don't know about all that, once these stories start getting passed around they become a game of telephone pretty quick. But I will allow that it looks like it was hell to make. Splitting their time in the dead of winter between Calgary and southernmost part of Argentina, I doubt the crew needed much motivation when they were expected to act cold out there.
But while those stories are fun to hear, they overshadow the fact that The Revenant is just a really, really good film.

It takes place around the the 1820's and concerns a group of hunters out to collect pelts to be traded and sold. When their scouter gets attacked by a bear and is eventually left for dead by his comrades, he must make his way back over the mountain and endure the unbearable conditions to take his vengeance on a man for something that was taken from him.

The scouter is played by Leonardo DiCaprio in a performance which is very light on dialogue but very heavy on physicality. He grunts and groans and screams and pants and claws his way through this film and never ever looks as though he's giving it any less than his full 100%. I'm never disappointed with DiCaprio's work but he's done something very special here. The rest of the cast are pretty good but are all overshadowed by Leo. The dialogue in this film is pretty subpar so it perhaps is not surprising that the acting is best all around when people aren't saying anything.

Visually this was the most striking film of the year. Director Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki split their visual palette between awe inspiring rocky mountain vistas, or endless forests of trees and extreme close ups. There are a number of moments when the camera is so close to the actors that they fog the lens with their breath. This highlights the dichotomy within the film of the personal nature of DiCaprio's quest and his own endurance while on it, and the enormity of nature and the insignificance it casts on us in relation to it.

Most, or perhaps all, of the camera work is handheld and really, as it was in Birdman, the camera is less a tool of document than a full fledged participant in the goings on. This truly gives the film the feel, especially on the big screen, that it’s not enough that you watch the events transpiring onscreen, you must be an active participant in them. It also gives the film an intensity and level of foreboding that never leaves it, even in the quiet scenes.


I don't know what Alejandro G. Iñárritu's cinematic influences are, but I can see winks and nods to other spiritually connected films such as Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (2006) and Terrance Malick's The New World (2005). In fact there's a lot of Malick in The Revenant, in its look and feel and consideration. But make no mistake, this is a Alejandro G. Iñárritu production. He has been carving his own history into his own set of stones the last fifteen years and his filmography is quickly becoming one of the more impressive, if also one of the more depressive, of his generation.

I've seen this movie three times. I catch things with every viewing I hadn't noticed before and I like the film more with each viewing. The film stays with me a long time after each watch and I find myself pondering the depths of my own motivations and where we stand in relation to nature, both of the physical world and within ourselves. Which at the end the day is what this film is about, nature. It's a profound film, impossibly beautiful and harrowing, often at the same time, and the best movie I saw in 2015.

Calgary Showtimes: Revenant, The >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to