Title: The Revenant
Language: English, Pawnee, French
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Western
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Mark L. Smith
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
based in part on the novel by Michael Punke
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Of course we can tease that DiCaprio has turned Inarritu’s latest majestically-looking Western revenge saga as his almost-perfect Oscar-draw with all the exacting physical tribulations: severely mauled by a bear, being buried alive, worming his way in the wild, floating on the raging torrent, eating raw fish and bison liver, falling from a cliff and keeping warm inside a dead horse’s cavity, etc. etc. some of those are real deal, others are cinematic creation, but there is no shame for an actor challenges himself to the extreme in order to win an Oscar award, although to many a cinephile, most of time Oscar looks like a joke, but for those whose career is making movies, getting the recognition from their peers is a huge honour and temptation rather difficult to refuse, also at least Leo does all those impressive stunts in his film instead of in the tiresome self-campaign.
Last year’s Oscar winner Inarritu returns with an even more grandstanding showpiece, running over 2 and a half hours, the narrative is fairly simple, inspired by a true event, in 1820s, a member of a fur trading expedition, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), survives a deadly bear attack and embarks on an astounding journey to avenge the killer of his Pawnee son Hawk (Goodluck). Basically, it is an eye-opening survival tale plus an old-fashion Western ending, but under Inarritu’s perfectionist and harsh working ethos, DP Emmanuel Lubezki’s mind-blowing visual grandeur (I’m talking about THE TREE OF LIFE level of magnificence, even the sky is not the limit for this guy!) and a fearless cast headed by DiCaprio and Hardy, we are awed to witness Hugh’s entire ordeal with admiration and inconceivability. One sure thing, apart from Leo’s Oscar chance, is Lubezki is on the fast track to fulfil his hat trick after GRAVITY (2013) and BIRDMAN (2014), one can only feel particularly sorry for Roger Deakins, who might lose to the same guy three times (consecutively) after his 13th nomination for SICARIO (2015) and still be Oscar-less.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this year finally belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio, personally I am not a fan of bodily transformation or endeavour, because the highest achievement of acting is reflected through an actor’s expressions and articulation, to convey one’s subtle or un-subtle emotions, other things are all bells and whistles, but after beholding all those exploits, one has to surrender to a feeling of commiseration, give Leo the damn Oscar!
An interesting side-note is that every time DiCaprio is nominated for an Oscar in leading role, there is always a collateral supporting nomination for his male co-star, first is Alan Alda in THE AVIATOR (2004), then, Djimon Hounsou in BLOOD DIAMOND (2006), next Jonah Hill in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013), and this time the fluke comes upon Tom Hardy (three out of four, save Hounsou, their nominations happen out of nowhere without any significant precursors), who plays Hugh’s nemesis John Fitzgerald, although it is a very dark character, Hardy generates great intimidation but as a whole not exceptionally superior to his other works, so the nomination could be conceived as a career-boost for his consistent output and a banner year in 2015 (with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and LEGEND), although his co-star Domhnall Gleeson, has an even more staggering line-up (EX MACHINA, STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS and BROOKLYN).
After my tepid reception towards BIRDMAN, THE REVEMANT complacently shows more potentialities of Inarritu as a visionary auteur, his compassion for the indigenous and scorn to the Western colonisation, are all admiring, only if he could underplay the flourishes a little bit and find some source material more pioneering other than boosting self-worth and endurance, that’s my little wishful thinking.