The Revenant

The Revenant ticketstubA bone-chilling tale of loss and isolation in the violent northern wilderness. There isn't much to give away, the plot develops as you would expect and trailers gave most of the basics to you already. What this movie does really well is to graphically demonstrate man's inhumanity to man in displays of graphic brutality as the encroaching white men skirmish with the natives and the opportunists who prey on the weak on both sides.

The two details that really stood out to me throughout this movie were the spectacular long tracking shots and the film's score. Typically, when you see a movie battle being fought, it's done with quick jump cuts invoking a sort of disorientation as the viewer is unable to work out what's happening (due to the quick shots) and where it's happening (due to all the jumping around on the battlefield). The Revenant instead uses these long shots that track through the action, rotating around so the viewer can see what's happening, where the action is moving, and all the violence close up and in the distance. This isn't just used in battles, it's used throughout to show what's happening to the characters, mostly DiCaprio's Hugh Glass, and to give a feel for the landscape and threats all around. The score is also pretty incredible, it's not loud and booming, but instead comes in swells, like dark lonely waves washing into a rocky shore. Often there's nothing but the sounds of the wilderness, and then the score washes in to emphasize the emotional and physical struggles Glass faces.

Here's where things get tricky. This movie is beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted, it's intense and violent and graphic. There's no dialog for much of the movie and you get the sense that evil usually wins. In other words, this not a pleasant movie-going experience. It takes a toll on you. I know it's getting a lot of buzz, but it's difficult to recommend it unless you're the sort of masochist that really wants to be dragged through such a taxing experience. I don't regret seeing it, but I also don't feel very good about it.