by Alan Yudman

I hemmed and hawed. I waited and procrastinated. I finally worked up enough curiosity to see THE REVENANT. I should not have waited so long. This is what happens with me. I hear about one scene or part of a movie that I think I won’t like and I talk myself out of seeing said film. That’s really dumb. In this case it was the bear mauling scene. I mean who wants to see that, right? That is a small, but important part of the movie. And there is so much more to this wonderful story by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith. Obviously it is a story of survival. It is also a story about the bond and love between a father and a son and the powerful motivation of vengeance. Leonardo Dicaprio is Hugh Glass, a scout guiding a party of fur trappers. He is accompanied by his son Wolf, a “half-breed”. His wife was killed years earlier in a raid and that just made the bond between father and son that much stronger. While scouting around their camp, Glass comes upon some bear cubs and is surprised by the mama bear who attacks and mauls him to the point of near death. His party finds him and the Captain (Domnhall Gleason) orders them to carry him along. Eventually he must be left behind with his son, and two other men Bridger (Will Poulter) and Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Fitzgerald just wants to kill Glass so he can bring his pelts in and make money. Eventually he tries. First killing Wolf and then burying Glass alive. But Glass survives and his quest for vengeance is on. The movie was shot in Canada and is absolutely stunning thanks to the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki (GRAVITY, BIRDMAN, CHILDREN OF MEN) and Inarritu’s direction. Dicaprio has never been better. There isn’t a lot of dialogue and he is on his own for much of the film, but you can read the pain and determination in every wince and grunt. It is a masterpiece of what can be done without speaking a word. I’ve seen all the nominated performances except for Eddie Redmayne in THE DANISH GIRL, but I can’t imagine it is better than this. Dicaprio has won all the major awards and he will probably take home his first Oscar. Tom Hardy has a much tougher job. The Best Supporting Actor category is loaded with excellent performances from Mark Rylance, Mark Ruffalo, Sylvester Stallone and Christian Bale. But his loathsome portrayal of the bigoted and bitter Fitzgerald deserves some kind of recognition. THE REVENANT is a brutal movie that at times is very tough to watch. But watch it you must, because to ignore it for the same reasons I almost did would be a crime.

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