Verdict: Visual Masterpiece
Amazing visuals and great acting, but horrendously gruesome.
With his ability to navigate in the wild, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) guides an expedition through the wilderness. After having to avoid confrontations with the natives, Glass is confronted with an angry bear and sustains life-threatening injuries. Fearing attacks from the natives, the Captain (Domhnall Gleeson) decides to leave Glass behind with Hawk, Bridger (Will Poulter) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), while the rest of the group moves on. However, Fitzgerald betrays the order to take care of Glass, and Glass must find a way to survive while fuelled by the act of revenge. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
To be honest, I was not very interested in the film when I started watching it, and the trailer did not look all that engaging either. While I still think the first half of the film is a little boring, it was actually quite interesting during the second hald. It depicts a different era, with a way of living that I am not much aware of, and so was quite an eye-opener.
I just have to mention first of all, that the cinematography is absolutely phenomenal. Emmanuel Lubezki certainly knows how to position the camera, and along with Iñárritu’s directing, manages to produce an exceptionally beautiful film. The shots of nature are so breathtaking that I feel like the film could have just been a documentary about the attractiveness of Canada (and Argentina). Indeed, during the first half of the film, it seemed like the appeal of the nature scenes far outweighed that of the narrative.
The story is based on the true story of Hugh Glass, though of course through a Hollywood-ised version. (I spent a good amount of time reading through the trivia page on IMDb.) From what I gather, there is a lot more anger and confrontations with other groups in this film that was not experienced by the real Hugh Glass. Though I have been saying that the narrative was not engaging, it did get better as the film progressed. Do note that the film is primarily focused on the aesthetics and not the narrative.
Speaking of aesthetics, I’ve already mentioned the amazing cinematography, but the visual effects are absolutely stunning as well. There is a ton load of gruesome scenes and depictions of violence in this film, and they are all done with so much detail, it’s amazing. It is almost too hard to believe that what happens on screen didn’t happen in real life. The bear attack -though seemed a little long, was absolutely chilling to watch. There is another scene involving another animal further on in the movie, and that too is unbelievably realistic. Adding to that, the make-up crew did a fantastic job at creating the wounds and scars. Seriously, everything that contributed to the visuals of this film supported each other into creating this visual masterpiece.
Last of all, I am sure all of you know by now that Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for this film, and rightly so. Though it did not seem like much of a performance at first, I understand now why he won it for portraying this character. The sheer intensity of raw emotion that he manages to convey, transcends the screen and brings so much feeling into his role. I really applaud his dedication to acting (apparently he ate a raw bison liver even though he’s vegetarian-check the trivia page mentioned above). Additionally, Tom Hardy gives a great supporting performance. I did not even recognize him for some time, and was extremely shocked to realize that he was in the film. His accent sounds so natural, and leaves no trace of his British origins. Gleeson is believable as the Captain, and I was surprised to see him in this as well, since he is mostly in romantic films. It was pleasant to see some of these major movie stars in roles not normally their style.
Overall, a visual masterpiece with amazing acting. The narrative was intriguing at best, and did feel convenient at times. Plus, the beginning was confusing, and I would have liked more of a background into Glass’ life prior to the exhibition.
PROS: Cinematography, directing, acting, visual effects, make-up
CONS: Narrative (confusing beginning), more background needed
I give this a 9/10.
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