As an avid member of the highly unofficial "Let's get Leo to finally win an Oscar" group, I really did have exceptionally high hopes for this film, directed by the same Mexican genius (Alejandro González Iñárritu) that brought us Birdman about a year ago.
First thing you need to know is that The Revenant is as visceral and unforgiving as it is beautiful and majestic. As is the case with Birdman, The Revenant shines blindingly brightly when it comes to the cinematography. The landscapes and general environment in which the film's events play out in allows for a plethora of awestrucking scenes and moments. Pair this with Alejandro's painstaking attention to the minutest of details and you are left with an amazing overall product.
The Revenant does a masterful job in carefully juxtaposing scenes of extreme quietness and tranquillity with moments of profound dread and anxiety. Be warned: there is an intense visceral aspect to the film that will take the wind out of your sails on numerous occasions, with some scenes proving quite difficult to 'stomach' (there's a funny, yet relatively inappropriate nod to the film's plot here, by the way). In saying that though, nothing ever feels too over-the-top or as if any particular scene was only added for sheer shock value. At the end of the film, you'll come to realize that every scene has a highly functional role in that it all ultimately allows the film to expertly showcase the unforgiving nature of both the wild and more importantly, mankind itself in a way that will leave its viewer profoundly impacted.
"Be warned: there is an intense visceral aspect to the film that will take the wind out of your sails on numerous occasions, with some scenes proving quite difficult to 'stomach'..."
And then of course, there's Leo's Oscar-worthy performance (I write whilst simultaneously trying to hold all the thumbs in my possession). What's most intriguing about Leo's performance is that it's one with very minimal dialogue, as Leo is for most of the film's runtime, either incapable of talking or, not around other humans to converse with in the first place. Leo is therefore forced to mostly utilise non-verbal emotes to communicate a wide range of extreme emotional states: from love, care, fear, distress, hope, sadness, hate, dread, anger and hopelessness (to name but a few). Leo really does an exceptional job in showcasing the impact and extremity of the events that his character is subjected to during the course of the film. Although a lot of praise must go to DiCaprio, it's important to also give a nod to the rest of the cast, in particular Tom Hardy as the film's main antagonist and Domhnall Gleeson as a strong-willed and righteous commander, known primarily for his role in the Harry Potter series of films.
There's a lot more to say about Alejandro's latest masterpiece, but at the end of the day, all you really need to know is that although it's a film that will be emotionally taxing to endure, it's a powerful and impactful journey that is definitely worth each moment of potential distress and discomfort.
Highlight: There is a scene involving a furry animal that will leave you awe.