The Revenant is definitely not a movie for everyone. It is brutal, harsh, and breath-takingly beautiful all at the same time. The Revenant is about Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fur trapper who has to make his way back to camp after he is attacked by a grizzly bear and left behind to die by his fellow trappers: the villainous John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and young Bridger (Will Poulter).
At its heart, The Revenant is very much a Western, and a very meditative one at that. The Revenant does not gloss over how wild life is in the frontier- the large expansive distances that people have to travel and the solitude (sometimes loneliness of it all). What makes The Revenant so hard to watch at times is how you see and experience almost everything that Glass experiences on his journey.
My favorite part about The Revenant are the visuals and the cinematography. There are so many images of the haunting barren landscapes as Glass makes his way back to the fort. One of my favorite images is when we see Glass walking through a clear snowy wasteland but we are so far away that we can't tell whether he is walking towards us or away from us. The battle scenes are also such a treat- the scenes are so kinetic and alive- we really get brought into the moment of the battle, experiencing the chaos along with the characters and I can't recall a battle scene quite like this in recent memory.
I am surprised by how much better this movie holds up the second day as I think about it some more. Coming straight out of the movie, I was frustrated with the pacing and in my notes, had things written down like "troublesome pacing" and "wow, Leo really wants his Oscar." But thinking back on the movie, I find myself liking the movie more, the whole experience of it, even the slower parts. I am also amazed by how Hardy disappears, as he always does into his roles- Fitzgerald is no exception.
If you want a non-traditional Western to watch or something intense and visually stunning, The Revenant is for you.