‘The Revenant’ review: A *torture* to sit through

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August 13, 2017 by Hope W.

Alejandro González Iñárritu directs Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of The Revenant.

I was talking to my colleagues the other day, and the topic got around to how they would never walk out of a movie halfway, no matter how much they dislike it, because they felt that it was just so rude and disrespectful (to the filmmakers and their efforts in making the film, I suppose). And it reminded me of The Revenant. Because I absolutely hated it.

I did not walk out of the movie. But the moment the screen turned black and the credits were about to start rolling, I literally jumped out of my seat and *fled* the theatre — something I have never done before for any movie, ever. Not even the stupid movies that I hated and was forced to watch because my friends insisted on watching them, like You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Superhero Movie. I just couldn’t stand to be in that theatre for a single second more.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Forrest Goodluck behind the scenes of The Revenant

First, a primer: The Revenant is the story of a frontiersman in the 1820s called Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who was mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team, especially after a scoundrel called John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) deceives everyone into thinking that he’s dead because Fitzgerald finds Glass too much of a burden to carry home. He kills Glass’ half-Native American son, Hawk, who most certainly was against the plan to leave his father behind, and terrorises a younger boy called Bridger (Will Poulter), who had also been tasked with carrying Glass home slowly as the rest continued their expedition, into corroborating the lie, though Bridger didn’t know Fitzgerald killed Hawk until much later. Miraculously, Hugh Glass survives, and fueled by grief and revenge, he sets off home through the bleak wilderness to hunt down the murderer and betrayer.

Leo as Hugh Glass and Forrest Goodluck as his son Hawk in The Revenant

I wasn’t forced to watch The Revenant, and in fact, went quite willingly, because there was so much buzz surrounding it back then as an Oscar frontrunner. But when I got out of the theatre, I had such negative feelings towards it that if it had won Best Picture, I would have lost my respect for the tastes of the people who make up the Academy. (Thankfully, it didn’t!) It was torturous to sit through the long and draggy runtime (2h and 36 freaking mins!), the hallucinatory quality and the complete and total misery of the film. Tom Hardy’s character is the nastiest I’ve ever seen, and nothing good seems to befall even “good” characters. As much torture as Hugh Glass suffers through the film — and as the cast and crew did under horrible shooting conditions that caused several to quit and the film budget to balloon — it was just as torturous to sit through. If I did not watch this film in the cinema, I would have turned it off after the first half hour and never gone back to it again.

Will Poulter as Bridger and Tom Hardy as the scoundrel John Fitzgerald in The Revenant

I mean, there are elements of it that I understand as being award worthy. The scenes are beautiful in the way nature documentaries are — remarkable as the cinematographer only shot using natural light, which is an extremely difficult feat to pull off. They were filmed in such a loopy yet continuous way that made me wonder where exactly the camera was and how did it zigzag around the actors to give us what we saw. The director wouldn’t be remiss in getting another Best Director statuette just for attempting to corral this picture together, though I would resent it, because it wasn’t a great film. (And Alejandro González Iñárritu did win Best Director, even though I feel George Miller deserved it more for Mad Max: Fury Road. 😡 ) Leo acted his heart out, and I’m glad he won Best Actor, if only to end his search for an Oscar. But if I wanted to watch him foaming and spitting at the mouth, I would rewatch The Wolf of Wall Street, where he looked like he had way more fun doing than this horrible movie.

Leo foaming and spitting his way into a Best Actor Oscar

I don’t know why people liked The Revenant. It’s just unrelenting misery. A tale of the extremes man can be put to to survive, and for revenge.

Did I mention that their accents were nigh impossible to understand? But since I didn’t enjoy myself very much, I stopped caring about knowing what they were saying. I just couldn’t wait for the movie to end — and when it did, I was so relieved I would never have to suffer through it again.


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