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dir Alejandro G Inarritu
scr Mark L Smith, Alejandro G Inarritu
prd Alejandro G Inarritu, Arnon Milchan, Mary Parent, Steve Golin, David Kanter, Keith Redmon, James W Skotchdopole
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Duane Howard, Lukas Haas, Paul Anderson, Brendan Fletcher, Melaw Nakehk'o, Grace Dove Syme, Javier Botet
release US 25.Dec.15, UK 15.Jan.16
15/US Fox 2h36
I'm a survivor: DiCaprio
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This epic Western is so earthy that you'll feel like you need to take a long, hot shower after watching it. There's mud, dirt, snow, blood and sweat in every scene, and it captures a remarkable sense of life at the harsh edge of civilisation in the 1820s. Settlers battle natives for resources, but it's Mother Nature who of course has the last word.
It's winter in the Rockies when a group of fur trappers led by Henry (Gleeson) is ambushed by native chief Elk Dog (Howard), who's searching for his kidnapped daughter Powaqa (Nakehk'o). Fleeing from the attack, survivors are rescued by Glass (DiCaprio), a guide who went native and adopted young teen Hawk (Goodluck) when his village was levelled. But Glass is viciously mauled by a grizzly bear, and the cynical Fitzgerald (Hardy) snaps, leaving Glass to die against the protests of the compassionate Bridger (Poulter). Miraculously, Glass survives and sets out to settle the score.
The title refers to a person back from the grave, and Glass resurrects with a vengeance. His journey is both physically and emotionally wrenching, as he's haunted by memories of his past and pursued by everything and everyone across a forbidding mountainous terrain covered in ice and snow. Inarritu shoots this with his usual bravura touches, employing Emmanuel Lubezski's skilled camerawork in staggering long takes that continually play up the underlying tension and urgency.
DiCaprio delivers a visceral performance unlike anything he's ever done, bringing real power to Glass' tenacious physicality. Lubezski's extreme close-ups offer the same textured detail to all of the actors. Hardy is a terrifying hothead who doesn't care about anyone but himself, Gleeson is a fair-minded commander, and Poulter simply can't resist helping those in need. Other characters come into focus only briefly, offering insight and context.
The way the film is assembled adds a breathtaking angle to the usual man-versus-nature theme, most notably in the staggering violence, which veers between man's resilience and fragility. It also carries a strong twist on the usual revenge plotline, layered through continual references to what each group of men has stolen from the others. Yes, this is a story of primal masculinity, as the few women are either victims or angels. And Inarritu recounts it in a way that's thrilling and harrowing, with strong themes that gurgle up from under the surface.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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