Let me preface this review by stating that I been following this production very closely for the better part of a year. The unorthodox film-making and extreme conditions for the actors elevate this film to a whole other level. The final product is a masterpiece in aesthetics and storytelling on both sides of the camera.
Those that know me know I do not like Leonardo DiCaprio as a person, but that in no way detracts from his excellent acting abilities. For The Revenant, Leo gives a whole new meaning to method acting. Its hard to tell where the acting stopped and the truly "being" began in this film. Its a tour-de-force performance that has to literally be experienced.
In my previous review for The Hateful Eight, I chided Quentin Tarantino for his lackluster product. Much like this film, Quentin employed unorthodox filming techniques such as 70mm film with which to, um, film. But where Quentin failed to capture the importance of the environment as a character in the film, The Revenant succeeded. Perhaps the most ironic contrast between these two films is this: both films have a near equal run-time, but where The Hateful Eight is slow and dialogue heavy, The Revenant is quicker paced with little dialogue.
The most interesting of these two films is The Revenant.
Director Alejandro Iñárritu is on the cusp of being one of the extremely few directors to win the Oscar twice-in-a-row. (He won last year for the equally unique Birdman.) Alejandro employed only natural light for this film. The resulting cinematography is breathtaking. We feel the cold sting of the freezing wind. We could almost taste the icy river water. But most of all, we can feel every scratch and bite from the extremely violent bear attack. (Seriously, a jaw-dropping scene!)
Here's my list of awards that need to be handed out:
1) Best Actor - Leo
2) Best Cinematography (no doubt!)
3) Best Sound & Sound Editing (so natural)
4) Best Adapted Screenplay
5) Best director (Yes, twice in a row but the Academy won't give it to a Mexican for a third year in a row)
6) Best Picture
This is the film I anticipated the most for the winter season even more so than Star Wars. And unlike Star Wars, my expectations were blown away by this spectacular survival epic that had me pinned to my seat. I will definitely be watching this film again!
My Rating: A