DiCaprio shines in Oscar-nominated film ‘The Revenant’

Megan Millard

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Anticipation for Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Revenant” had been building since the release of its first trailer in July of 2015, and it continued to soar until its debut on Jan. 8 finally put an end to the suspense. The remarkable casting, directing and acting made this film truly spectacular. More than just a story about a man’s emotional vengeance and his struggles in the wilderness, this film features the brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio, who deserves to win an Oscar for his role after years of empty-handedness.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the director who gave us Michael Keaton’s Oscar-winning “Birdman,” took advantage of the picturesque landscapes of both Canada and Argentina to portray the true struggles between man and emotion as well as man and nature to deliver a thrilling film.

DiCaprio, who practices method acting, expertly plays Hugh Glass, a historical figure who endured both emotional and physical challenges during his time in the Great Plains. DiCaprio’s commitment to the role cannot be questioned, which he demonstrates by eating raw bison liver, wading into frozen streams, and even carving out the innards of a dead animal on screen. This dedication definitely made the difference because it created a cathartic experience for those watching the film.

Image courtesy of Fox

Image courtesy of Fox

It was a wise choice for Iñárritu to feature DiCaprio’s initial reactions to the grisly  situations in the film because it allowed us to feel the gore and disgust that Glass experienced. This feeling of immersion undoubtedly contributed to the high quality of the film.

DiCaprio wasn’t the only actor who outdid himself. Tom Hardy and Will Poulter also played key roles as fellow fur tradesmen, expressing two opposing sides of the moral coin: Hardy’s character, John Fitzgerald, is a self-interested, greedy man from the south who expresses no remorse, while Poulter plays a youthful, kindhearted character. Both successfully work to balance the narrative.

This film was truly exceptional. It was raw. However, do not confuse exceptional with entertaining. While “The Revenant” had incredibly high quality acting, directing, and cinematography, the intensity was exhausting. If you are looking to see a movie to give you an escape, see something else. But if you are looking for a movie that displays the industry’s prowess, “The Revenant” is an appropriate selection.

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, there is gore and violence, which continues until the very end, expressing the brutality of the terrain, the industry, the time period, and the inter-party relations. The Americans, the French, and the Native Americans were each represented with very little bias to express more accurately how “business” was carried out, which was clear from the brutality of interactions and the cold-hearted dialogue between people of opposing parties.

A revenant is “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead,” according to the Oxford dictionary, and this movie lives up to the potency of its title. With 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Actor,“The Revenant” is ultimately worth the energy and attention needed to appreciate its captivating storytelling.