The Revenant is a stunningly gorgeous film. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s brilliance cannot be overstated; I honestly feel it’s more his film than Iñárritu’s, let alone DiCaprio’s.
There’s much else to enjoy in The Revenant. The score is one of the better atmospheric scores I’ve heard. The supporting cast is very strong, with Gleeson delivering a strong performance as always, and Tom Hardy being as fantastic as I’ve come to expect. DiCaprio is solid as the lead, though I can’t escape the feeling the fact he had no dialogue actually worked to his favour (I’m generally not a huge fan of DiCaprio’s delivery).
But I honestly can’t say I enjoyed the writing. Maybe it’s the fact I was already familiar with the tale of Hugh Glass, and had read the novel the film is loosely based on. I was certainly surprised by the huge amounts (the vast majority) of writing that didn’t depict the supposed reality of Glass’s life, or the novelist Punke’s depiction. And I found many of the additions – such as Glass’ wife and son – weakened the film. While Glass’ flashback/dream sequences in the film had striking imagery, I felt they were attempts to claw at a greater meaning that just wasn’t presented in the film. And the good guy Glass vs bad guy Fitzgerald narrative reaches ridicolous heights in the ending.
The Revenant feels like a battle between Iñárritu making a pretty good film about a good man hunting down a bad man who did bad things to him, and Lubezki making a staggeringly gorgeous brilliant film about man versus nature.
I give it three and a half discarded book scenes, and a horse’s corpse.