Monday, February 1, 2016
Spectacular elk ford sun dappled, teal colored icy rivers, snow melt drips from massive fir trees and mountain ranges stand against luminous sunsets. Landscape is character in The Revenant and makes an epic backdrop for Leonardo DiCaprio's hellishly grueling performance.
Set against this grand scenery and DiCaprio's astounding effort, the story and it's muddled themes appear pint-sized. Inarritu's script, which he co-wrote, chooses to delve into America's genocidal beginnings, but manages merely a trite ode to Native American wisdom. It's as if he'd never seen Dances with Wolves, Little Big Man or any other film that treats the subject less casually. If The Revenant was reaching for standard Eastwood-style revenge, the cursory attitude might pass, but the grandeur and scope of Inarritu's portrait of wilderness and DiCaprio's herculean effort signify an aspiration for deeper meaning. Man's ubiquitous savagery to his fellow men and women is hardly a satisfying or particularly novel morsel of truth in the age of ISIS and random mass shootings.
Its' easy to imagine an award for DiCaprio's performance and one for cinematographer Emmanual Lubezki. The film's depiction of nature is masterful, but it's unmatched by a compelling narrative. By the 2 1/2 hour mark we're dead sure Leonardo is going to exact revenge, but we're doubtful that it matters.