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Golden Globe-Winner Leonardo Dicaprio In 'The Revenant': Is He Worth the Oscar? [Review]

By valerie complex on Jan 13, 2016 11:40 AM EST

It's Golden Globe-winner Leonardo Dicaprio against the wilderness in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant. Dicaprio has never been grittier, more feral and more desperate to win an Oscar than in this film. That isn't necessarily unfavorable to him, though, as he put his body through the ringer in such a physically demanding role. I just wonder, now that he's done the impossible, which reaches everywhere from eating animal parts to sleeping in their carcasses, where does he go from here? More importantly: what's to happen if he doesn't take home the Oscar?

The Revenant tells the story of frontiersman Hugh Glass (portrayed by Dicaprio) on his quest for revenge against John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the man who killed his son. The journey starts as Glass and his son act as wilderness guides to an army company led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhall Gleeson), who are gathering animal fur on occupied land.

The group runs into trouble when hostile Native Americans engage the travelers and deem that they want the frontiersman and army brigade expelled from their hallowed ground. A gun battle ensues, with Hugh and the group narrowly escaping with their lives. Even in the midst of all the chaos, it's obvious that Glass and Fitzgerald have a palpable tension existing between them.

However, things hit a fever pitch once Glass is critically injured in a malicious bear attack. The group has to leave Glass behind in order to return with help, and Fitzgerald offers to stay with Glass until medical care arrives. From here things go down hill slowly. Very, very slowly.

Leonardo Dicaprio may not one of my favorite actors but he has delivered some electrifying performances in roles such as Shutter Island, Inception, What's Eating Gilbert's Grape, and Dangjo Unchained. However, The Revenant is not among the elite. It's a physically demanding role, sure, but the constant grunting, crawling, sleeping, and groaning becomes needless. When viewing, I didn't feel anything for his suffering or his journey. Perhaps I lack empathy for his struggle but none of it connected for me. Maybe the plot was too inaccessible but I have to admit whatever role Dicaprio takes on he always gives 100%.

On the other side of the coin, Tom Hardy proves to be a contender in terms of acting capability. He has had a successful year, with Mad Max: Fury Road, and Legend, he has shown that he can deliver timeless performances consistently. In The Revenant, and not unlike roles in his past, he is truly one evil bastard. But, unfortunately, I found his performance to be, at the risk of sound redundant, foolhardy at times and his faux southern accent laughable. It took some time to get into his performance and while this isn't his best, he is still quite good. With an impressive resume, he has shown why he ranks among Hollywood's echelon of rising stars.

Inarritu's film work is always a wonderful experience; he certainly knows how to steep the audience into every scene, in all the action, and among every detail in his films. The lack of dialogue only adds to the cinematic splendor of the actual, physical landscape. On the surface, he makes the great outdoors seem majestic, and serene but underneath he shows how unforgiving the wild truly is.

However, what I don't understand is why Inarritu came to the decision that this film needed to be 2 hours and 23 minutes long. The audience is given a lot of information very early on and once that information has been delivered, you're forced to sit for nearly two hours until the film reaches its crux. Once you get to the point, it's resolved in such a rushed manner that it left me feeling unfulfilled. This is not the first time I've felt like this about Inarritu's work either. It is, perchance, that his films just aren't of my own taste.

I know I maintain an unpopular opinion but overall The Revenant is too slow of a burn. I understand that Leonardo Dicarpio and Inarritu have won Golden Globes this year but the film was inconsistent and failed keep me engaged. I love long films but I don't like movies that feel long. I applaud Dicaprio for his effort and Inarritu for his visual prowess but this is not a film that is deserving of accolades.

To me, Classicalites, it felt like a standard wilderness film without the graces of Ennio Morricone's wonderul scoring. It's reminiscent of the Robert Redford film Jeramiah Johnson but not as good.

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TagsThe Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu, Golden Globes

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