I’ve started a new habit for 2016. When working from home on a Friday (which I do whenever I can), I down tools at about 4pm and head to the local cinema. So far, it’s working well and I start my weekend in a very quiet cinema, enjoying something fun on the big screen. Yesterday evening, I went to see The Revenant.
What a mission that was. I knew it wasn’t going to be lighthearted, based on the trailers I’d seen and brief reviews I’d read. I just wasn’t prepared for the gut-wrenching, exhausting experience I had.
From the very first scene, you see nothing but misery, hardship, violence and bloody death. I can recall one lighthearted moment, but that was quickly following by more injury.
Set in 1832, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is a skilled frontiersman and scout, guiding a hunting party through the wilderness. Things obviously go horribly, horribly wrong and he’s left for dead in the middle of nowhere. The remaining film is a series of catastrophes, injuries and blood that, while very well executed on screen, left me queasy. Bearing in mind ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is one of my favourite films, Revenant crossed a few lines in the ‘gore’ stakes.
DiCaprio is really superb in his role of the gruff scout who’s had a miserable life and is on a grief-fuelled mission to exact revenge on the people who wronged him. It could easily have turned into a typical Hollywood film at several points, but instead remained as realistic as it possibly could. There are no short-cuts or cliches.
There were audibly groans and gasps in the cinema I was in, sometimes at the gore, sometimes at the injuries Di Caprio’s character sustains. One scene, set in the fort he’s trying to return to, was memorable due to how successfully it had me imagining the stink of the place.
There is a distinct lack of Hollywood gloss here and it’s a welcome change. Everyone is filthy and stinking, all the time. The violence is brutal but realistic. The scenery is stunning but also quite frightening when you think about how difficult (and short) life was in 1832 in the American wilderness.
The cast was excellent. DiCaprio deserves an armful of awards for his performance, while Tom Hardy is almost unrecognisable as the psychotic hunter who becomes DiCaprio’s nemesis. Domhnall Gleeson plays a young, inexperienced captain of the party, trying to keep it all together in the face of unending bad luck. A far cry from his crisp confident character in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakenes’.
All in all, it was an entertaining experience, but very tough to watch. The Revenant’s unrelenting misery and difficult scenes mean it’s not a date movie or one to watch when you’ve had a tough day.
All the same, I’d definitely recommend it.