Synopsis: In the early 1800’s, a grievously injured scout struggles to survive in the American wilderness after being left behind by his group.
The Revenant, a film about struggle and triumph is loosely based on the real life battle for survival of Hugo Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a trapping party scout, who was attacked by a grizzly bear in what is present-day South Dakota. For a sum, two members of the group agree to stay with Glass until he dies of his massive wounds. But the uncooperative gent clings to life and after several days his non-caregivers lose patience and leave him. Director Alejandro Innaritu imagines Glass’ unholy quest for vengeance as he hauls himself across hundreds of miles of unforgiving terrain in search of the men who abandoned him. Intriguing. But there is a more compelling struggle…
The struggle of one of America’s greatest actors to grasp the elusive Oscar that has been so unjustly denied to him. Yes, this is Leonardo DiCaprio’s story as much as it is Hugo Glass’.
Among the performances that Leo has brilliantly given us: Romeo, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jay Gatsby — Jack Dawson. For our cinematic satisfaction he has endured an iceberg, an iron mask, madness, bad makeup and mind travel. (Titanic, The Man in the Iron Mask, Shutter Island, J. Edgar and Inception, respectively.) First off, the Academy snubbed Leo’s Jack Dawson in Titanic — not even a nomination! Well, more than ten years later I thought that he would claim an Academy Award for Revolutionary Road (2008), but Sean Penn won for Milk. I mean, how much does Leo have to scream his head off to get an Oscar?!
After twenty years of Oscar caliber performances, it was time for Leo to go for broke, heading off into the frozen Western wilderness with Alejandro Innaritu. His work with Scorcese had been a good bet, and then there was the slumming with Baz Luhrmann and now it was time to put himself into the hands of the gifted Innaritu.
What follows is harrowing: Leo screams and screams, and cries, and bellows, and whispers meaningfully. He endures bitter cold and mouthfuls of buffalo entrails. He
runs and crawls, and is roughly dragged on a make-shift stretcher. Worst of all, he suffers being mauled by an angry CGI grizzly bear. And think how this filming experience is the cruel antithesis of Leo’s life– no yacht parties with his overgrown bros, no teenage Victoria Secret models, no SoCal sun or fine dining. Harrowing, indeed.
In The Revenant, we are with Leo every step of the way on his Oscar journey. I was in awe of the range in his screams whilst the bear savaged him and when he is buried alive by his companions — not cool, man! And I shivered as he crawled through the snow, scavenging his way along.
There is a scene where Leo has arrived against all odds at an outpost and, hunched over a table, he rasps out his story. (He can’t scream anymore because the bear tore
out his throat and he had to stitch himself up.) His lips are, oh, so chapped and his hair, oh, such a tangled mess. My gaze fixed on his penetrating stare that peered beyond time and space. And I knew that it was his quarry he saw there, glittering in all its glory: Oscar…his Oscar. (Well, his and sort of the bear’s too.)