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Logline: On a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, a frontiersman is badly injured by a bear and left for dead by members of his own party.

Review: After 2014’s excellent Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu tops himself yet again with The Revenant, a haunting, beautiful film that explores the cruelty of man against the backdrop of a vast wilderness. 

Survival, loss, betrayal, and revenge are all elements of The Revenant, an epic tale told on a personal scale.  The viewer is there for every step of Hugh Glass’s journey.  Leonardo Dicaprio is amazing as always.  Perhaps, the forty-one year old actor will finally be awarded a long overdue Oscar this year for his role as Glass.

Iñárritu collaborated with his cinematographer from Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki to achieve the film’s aesthetic.  The visual style is astounding with natural lighting that supports the film’s unflinching realism.   The film is brutally realistic in its jarring juxtaposition of humanity and nature.  There are some incredible set pieces.  The opening assault is breathtaking and the remainder of the film sustains a high level of intensity.  I was in awe for the majority of the film’s two and a half hour run time, which is surprisingly brisk.  The film’s raw, ferocious intensity is coupled with a meditative, poetic tone.

The Revenant is a modern-day classic complete with gorgeous visuals, superb acting, and a visceral intensity.  It is masterful filmmaking and one of the year’s must-see films.

Rating (out of ****): ****