Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy.
Dir by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won the Academy Award for direction for The Revenant, but leading man Leonardo DiCaprio has walked away with the glory, playing a battered frontiersman in the wilds, circa 1823. It’s the story of a man’s survival in the bitterly cold wilderness after being mauled by a bear. With wounds rotting his body, Hugh Glass drags himself over the inhospitable terrain, dodging ‘Red Indian’ arrows and rival fur-trappers, fuelled by grief at his son’s murder by his evil teammate John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, also nominated). Glass’s deeply-furrowed brow, pain-ringed eyes, straggly hair and speech that comes out in grunts of pain is a deeply felt and physically tough performance. The star is also dwarfed by the landscape, shot with an almost spiritual fervour by Emmanel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki, a location so unspoilt, the savage bursts of blood force one to avert the glance. This primitive beauty is overpowering, so it is shocking to discover from DiCaprio’s Oscar speech that the crew had to hunt for snow, thanks to global warming. This film could be seen as a homage to nature, as well as to the human spirit that can endure anything when the atavistic urge for revenge strikes. Still, the final message is about letting God do his work.