Friday, January 29, 2016

Guest Review! The Call of the Wild: The Revenant shows the human heart in all its aching rawness

  Alejandro G. Iñárritu directs a tense moment with Tom Hardy & Leo
Every once in awhile, I like to encourage other voices to contribute to this blog because it is always fascinating to get a fresh perspective on what other cinephiles take away from the magic that is a well-crafted motion picture, especially one so majestic as The Revenant. My friend Debbie Blinder, owner of Full Circle Candles and self-professed "movie freak" spoke so passionately to me about seeing this film (currently nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture), that I encouraged her to write about it. She even agreed to have her Russian Blue, Jackaroo, give Toby a break and rate the picture at the bottom. Without further ado, here is her review!

What does "revenant" even mean? many people have asked. It matches the story perfectly.

rev·e·nant: a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.

Walking into the theatre after being warned that I might not be able to take the gruesome parts of the
movie, I found myself hesitant. However, being a longtime fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and knowing what he went through in this role, I still decided to brave the film as the intrigue and support outweighed the concern.

This movie was no doubt raw, but no part of it ran me off. It is a simple story of family love, survival and ultimate revenge mixed into the incredibly rough wilderness. What captured me right from the beginning was the way it was artistically filmed. Camera angles, natural lighting mixed with incredible acting, were in my opinion, the heroes from the start. It is a work of art.

Debbie with her daughter Autumn 
The scenery is impeccable. Beautiful and harsh all at the same time. I noticed scenes in which there were no footprints, not a hint of any human presence in these deep, snowy areas. Just the actors taking the first steps in uncharted territory. I knew going into the film that the choice was made to film not using artificial lighting. Genius! Evening scenes, lit from fire, stars, or the Aurora Borealis, illuminated the actors and landscapes beautifully. From morning till dusk the suns angles permeated the forest trees taking the audience on an eye-catching adventure. The senses were indeed awakened.

With all this said, the parts I was warned about were indeed intense. There is no going around that, but it is so well directed, filmed and acted that through the story I found myself intrigued by what would happen next and an understanding that the basic techniques for survival is a necessity. There are some slower moments, but they allow you, the viewer, to soak in the beauty before your eyes. Also, the Native American energy intertwined in this story made the intensity all the more sacred. I have great admiration for what the actors had to endure. (The Insatiable Critic's note: The Revenant was filmed in Canada, Argentina, Mexico, and Arizona. According to Entertainment Weekly, some of the crew complained about having to travel 12 hours to film 90 minutes of the movie, as well as being limited to the time constraints of natural lighting). Braving the environment seemed to be impossible and yet it was realistic. The Revenant is very much worth seeing and again, especially (if you still can) on the big screen to get the full experience of the rustic environment.

Jackaroo's Oscar predictions: Cinematography should be one for sure in addition to Best Actor for Leonardo's amazing performance.

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