It should be a surprise to no one that the new film from Alejandro G. Inarritu looks absolutely beautiful, even though it deals with dark and upsetting subject matter. At this point, Innaritu has become one of our most reliably interesting directors for grown-ups, and this time, he's got a hell of a piece of material to wrangle to life.
If you've never listened to “The Dollop,” a podcast by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, it's a different story from history each week, with Anthony doing the research and telling the stories to Reynolds without him knowing what's coming. Early in the podcast's life, they told the story of Hugh Glass, and that was the moment I decided to subscribe to that podcast permanently.
Even though this is a historical event and you could easily go to Wikipedia and read the details of Glass's story, you shouldn't do it if you plan on seeing “The Revenant.” The new trailer does a decent job of laying out some of the big story points and establishing the tensions between Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), but it doesn't really get into the craziest parts of the story. I have no idea how far the film's going to go, but if they even hint at the real details, it's going to be the weirdest thing in theaters this year.
One of the things that “The Dollop” communicates clearly is that living in frontier times in America was an unending nightmare of hardships and insane choices, and “The Revenant” doesn't look like any Western we've seen before, something that's not easy to pull off in that particular genre. And thanks to Innaritu's knack for staging FX moments that are very real and very visceral, I anticipate that the bear attack in the film is going to show us every grisly detail, which I'll appreciate since I am positively terrified of bears. Forget about sharks… these things are on land and wandering through people's yards and the size of a small car and can kill you. Bears are a completely rational thing to be afraid of, because they are giant killing machines, and Hugh Glass not only survived my greatest nightmare, but then went through something that was even worse than my worst nightmare.
So, yeah… sounds like a perfect movie for Christmas. Bring it on.
“The Revenant” is in theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.