Revenant

It is odd that Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar win will likely come for The Revenant, a movie in which he is given relatively little to do. It certainly takes effort to thrash around and foam at the mouth, and he does all that well, but there is not a whole lot of variety to his performance, nor is there meant to be. This is an exceedingly straightforward revenge movie that does exactly what it sets out to do. It is magnificently produced, with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki sustaining unreal beauty that makes his other work look like unfocused, distorted footage of static. But while the technical accomplishments are unassailable (for all involved), the story itself is not especially built to inspire strong emotions one way or the other. Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you are not already susceptible to being awed by a survivalist story of trudging through the snowy wilderness, The Revenant does not work overtime to change your mind. It operates with a workmanlike approach wherein it is what it is. There is some dabbling in the concept that “we are all one with nature” or something like that, but it hardly overwhelms the narrative. Too bad, honestly; more of those diversions would have been more polarizing, perhaps, but also more exciting.

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