‘The Revenant’ Review

‘The Revenant’ stands tall and goes into daring territory this Oscar season, with the sensational help of Leonardo DiCaprio in his toughest role yet.

‘The Revenant’ brings the audience into the harsh and daring world of 1820’s woodland America.

the revenant
Photo courtesy Steven Zang

Struggle: it’s something that we must face on a consistent basis. For some, the end-reward might be miniscule, whether it be rest or a well-deserved pat on the back. However, there are some of us who depend on a specific result: survival. And that’s where director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant finds its groove, in how it highlights survival in such harsh environments to the point that the reality of it all seems, well, all too real.

The Revenant (with “revenant” meaning “someone who has returned, especially from the dead”) brings the audience into a dividedly-self-seeking era on America’s timeline: fur-trading in the 1820s. Set in the unbearable extremes of winter-stricken Montana and the Dakotas, we find Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son, Hawk, following a pack of hard-working tradesmen on their exploration for the local plethora of furry mammals. Nevertheless, one greedy hunter by the name of John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) decides to kill off Hawk and leave Hugh for dead after a fairly-critical bear attack. Hence, Hugh must not only succumb to his violent surroundings, but also gain the strength to bring down Fitzgerald and avenge his Native American son.

Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubuski tells such a believably resonant tale through his unbelievable cinematography, moving alongside Hugh and the other survivalists as they go head-to-head with Mother Nature and their Indian rivals. You walk, jump, fall and rise again with the camera, feeling every heart-thumping triumph and loss.

Furthermore, the audience gains a presence through more than just the camera lens. Rather, this historically-driven realm of existence created by Iñárritu and Lubuski also has a massive credit to its acting. Think of it this way: Famed dramatic-actor Tom Hardy makes you despise Fitzgerald and his vile sense of greed and selfishness, willing to rank the lives of other under himself for financial gain. However, that’s the equivalent of an opening act, making the main event out to be the jaw-dropping performance of Academy-nominated Leonardo DiCaprio.

From eating actual bison liver to sleeping in a real-horse carcass, the actor plays Hugh so intensely and passionately that it adds a whole new layer of depth to such a decrepitly isolated setting. Just ask local movie buff Shannon Zang, who found the three-hour epic to hold up on its buzz-worthy promise. “It was daring, outrageous, and overall a great film,” said Shannon. “DiCaprio should most certainly win an Oscar for making me feel each obstacle he had to overcome.”

In the end, The Revenant is a must-see, and not just because it’s the talk of the town this upcoming awards season. More or less, it’s a story of redemption, overcoming the struggles that we all must face time and time again. Sure, our obstacles may appear more down to earth than a night in an animal corpse. However, if Hugh Glass teaches us anything, it’s that it all comes down to courage and how much of it you’re willing to return, even in the eyes of death.

The Revenant is playing locally in and around Montclair! Some theaters include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Essex Green 9 in West Orange, and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas 4 in the heart of Montclair. For more theaters and a list of show-times, visit fandango.com today!

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