THE REVENANT directed by Alejandro G.Iñárritu (US, 2015)

revenant-leoIn which an A-list vegetarian actor is forced to eat buffalo liver, raw fish and to pick meat off the bones of long dead animal carcasses.

These are only part of what Leonardo Di Caprio, as Hugh Glass,  has to endure after being left for dead in an unforgiving snowy wilderness with a constant threat from roving tribes of Native Indians. Though set at the end of the 19th Century, this is a modern day western in the raw, gritty spirit of Cormac McCarthy.

Emmanuel Lubezki’s landscape photography is astonishing and it come as no surprise to discover that he has also worked with Terrence Malick. It justifies the director’s decision to use natural lighting and to reject the easy option of computer-generated imagery.

The special effects are equally breathtaking. A fight with a grizzly bear is amazingly realistic. Never has the ‘no animal has been harmed during the making of this film’ message been so necessary.

Stripped to the rawest elements, this is a tale of survival and revenge against all odds. The tagline ‘Blood lost – life found’ can also serve as a plot summary. Complaints in some quarters about the movie being merely a celebration of machismo are akin to complaining of lack of affirmative female roles in a war movie.

Tom Hardy plays the ruthless Fitzgerald, Glass’s uncompromising adversary. Hardy is an actor who seems to inhabit his characters while I generally find it harder to separate DiCaprio from his offscreen persona. I will concede, however, that DiCaprio gives an impressive no holds barred performance here, one which should finally earn him the long-awaited Academy Award.

In a state of exhaustion and barely alive, his stony stare into the camera at the end of the movie should come with the caption: NOW can I have an Oscar, pleeeeeeaaaase!