Tag Archives: Alejandro González Iñárritu

The Revenant

7 Jan

 

 

Throughout his career, Alejandro González Iñárritu has set his eye on struggle and the imminence of death. “Amores Perros” (2000), the cornerstone film that made Iñárritu an international commodity, featured a “Cujo”-esque canine able to rip flesh from bone with ease. In 2014’s “Birdman,” Michael Keaton’s play-staging thespian hung on the verge of ruin and suicide and hears voices too, though not to the degree Javier Bardem’s shadowy Spaniard does in “Biutiful” (2010) – he can actually see death. Iñárritu’s latest, “The Revenant,” borrows elements from all three of those achievements as it sends Leonardo DiCaprio’s imperiled frontiersman on a Jobian trek across the frozen northern plains – mostly on his belly.

010616i The RevenantThe title refers to one who returns from the dead or a long absence. Some definitions have it as a ghost or specter, and all are apt in Iñárritu’s ordeal of great suffering. Right from the start, blood gets spilled as a party of American fur trappers in the early 1800s is beset by Arikara warriors. Viewers, like the furriers, don’t see the Native American detachment coming until the visceral twang of a well-guided arrow sails across the screen and pierces the throat of an unwary skinner. Being at the mercy of a largely unseen assailant registers eerily like the band of mercenaries in “Predator” being picked off one by one by a near-invisible alien force.

DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass, the outfit’s guide along with his half-Pawnee son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), get the survivors on a boat down the mighty Missouri River, full, foreboding and a major player in the film. Ever too much the sitting duck on the water, where you can feel the presence of waiting arrows at every bend, the party lands and goes it afoot. It’s there, among the ferns and pines while scouting ahead, that Glass is mauled by a mother grizzly protecting her cubs. The scene is long, brutal and squirm-worthy as Glass’ flesh is peeled from his back and his body pulled from and flung into Emmanuel Lubezki’s impassive, ground-level camera. The orchestration of sound, imagery and the frothed grimace on DiCaprio’s face is as stomach-knotting as it is poetic perfection. Continue reading