Alejandro González Iñárritu's THE REVENANT
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Technically, artistically, and dramatically, this movie is brilliant. Viewers are always conscious of the obvious care and labor that went into making this movie, on both sides of the camera. It is so realistic, in fact, that the listing of at least 10 special-effects companies at the end credits comes as somewhat of a surprise.
The movie is also relentlessly grim. Fur trapping in the snowy northern mountain wilderness with the French, Native Americans, and New Americans clashing with arrow, musket, and hatchet was not a pleasant — or safe — occupation. Throw in unfettered cruelty, brutal hand-to-hand combat, vicious bear attacks, kidnapping, and rape and you have a film that might not be a good date movie.
As a tale of human perseverance and survival this film has few equals. The entire cast, led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, is superb. But the smiles are few and we spend much outdoor time in gray, washed out half light, with distant snowcapped peaks testifying majestically to nature’s indifference to the suffering being portrayed.
One could spend time contemplating what the movie tells us about pain, cruelty, and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds and physical peril. If that’s your thing, so be it. For me, I don’t think I’ll be submitting myself to this cinematic torture again. I guess I prefer my spirit to be uplifted, not crushed, even when the crushing is beautifully and artistically portrayed.
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald.