The Revenant (2016) – By Harry Deansway
SCENERY CHEWS UP ATORS AND STORY IN INDULGENT REVENGE FLICK
A visual feast that like Leo’s wilderness diet has little nourishment.
With a running time Long enough to garner oscar buzz (why say it in an hour and twenty when you can say it in three) The Revenant is one of the most hyped films of the year. I suppose I shouldn’t complain about running time when the slight discomfort of testing the endurance of my bladder pales into insignificance compared to human Wile E. Coyote Hugh Glass’s (Leo DiCaprio) arduous trek through the wilderness following a bear mauling. Little happens before the inciting incident that propels the film leaving you asking who is Hugh Glass, a question the Terence Mailikesque dream sequences shed little light on. If more time was spent at the top setting up characters and less time was spent filming Leo chowing down on raw meat and using dead animals as sleeping bags I might have actually cared about his quest for revenge. I mean Tom Hardy’s incessant mumbling made me me want to kill him too, but not enough to motivate me to trek three months across the wilderness with gang green flesh and a torn throat. When the pay off arrives It’s hard to care as you’ve never connected with a character whose main traits are a propensity for groaning and the body of a bouncy ball.
I feel harsh saying anything negative about a film that was no doubt gruelling to make, time consuming and according to reports almost as draining as an actual bear attack but fluid camera movements, natural light and stunning visual content do not make up for a lack of substance. Yes, thanks to the art department you feel like you are on the great American frontier but for an education on that period you’d be much better giving your time to Ken Burn’s documentary The West.
As I leave the cinema I can’t help thinking I’d have preferred the film if Hugh had died in his shallow grave 30 minutes in. You’ll need the resilience of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character to sit through 156 minutes of what is essentially a beautifully shot advertisement for state of the art camera equipment. Ultimately like the characters this aesthetic scenery porn fails to connect.