The Revenant (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 142 minutes.
Not for children.
This is a compelling and, surprisingly, mostly accurate account of fur
trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was attacked by a bear while
on a fur trapping expedition along the Missouri river in 1823 when he
was 43 years old. The head of the expedition, Andrew Henry (Domnhall
Gleeson) asks for two volunteers to stay with him until he dies. 19 year
old Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy)
Director Alejandro Gonzâlez Iñárritu (who, back in the day, did voice
commercials for my cousin-in-law, Tony Dieste, in Mexico City) tells the
story with shocking realism, from a fine script by Iñárritu and Marc L.
Smith, partially based on a novel by Michael Punte. The bear attack is
as realistic as anything you’ll see on the silver screen. When you view
what Glass goes through, you would think this is all Hollywood, but it
is, in fact, true! This is a story of survival in the wilderness as
Bridger and Fitzgerald abandon him, taking his rifle with them, as
Fitzgerald convinces Bridger that Glass is a goner.
I guess that Iñárritu
and Smith got the story about Glass’s fictional son and the counter
factual ending from the novel, which I have not read. I still don't
understand why Hollywood can't let the facts speak for themselves
instead of inventing their hackneyed Hollywood Ending.
But regardless of the
literary license, this is a fascinating, tense tale with terrific
performances by DiCaprio and especially Hardy as the bad guy,
Fitzgerald. In an Oscar®-worthy performance, the screen really brightens
up when he appears.
Filmed in both Canada and Argentina, the cast endured the elements of
mountain life first hand, captured by sparkling cinematography by
Emmanual Lubezki. The mountain scenes and rushing rivers are almost
worth the price of admission by themselves. At one point the temperature
descended to -27°. That certainly adds to the verisimilitude of the
film. This is, without question, one of the best films of the year.