The Revenant

by Ben Diamond


Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (Iñárritu, 156m, 2016)

Warning – spoilers

Don’t you hate it when you’re on an expedition for pelts and you get into a fight with a bear, and the bear sort of wins the fight?  And then the bear gets cocky and comes back for more and you decide that you’re not going to take this bear’s shit any more?  (At this point, if someone asked me if I was going to take this bear’s shit anymore, I would reply ‘Does a bear shit in the woods?’).  So then, don’t you hate it when the bear comes back, and you shoot it, but it keeps laying into you, and you’re all ‘Get OFF me, bear!’ and eventually it sort of does, and you both roll down a ravine and the bear lands on you but you’re still alive, and your friends find you, and you think you’re home and dry, that they’ll look after you, and then they decide to kill your son and leave you for dead?  But you’re not dead?  Don’t you just flipping HATE that?

I like that director Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu has clearly put the everyman at the forefront of his concerns when making The Revenant.  In David Cameron’s Big Society, we’re all getting savaged by bears on expeditions for pelts.  Every bloody day.  It really gets you down after a while.  So here’s DiCaprio, and he’s got a message for Cameron.  He’s mad as hell, and he’s not gonna take it anymore.  He’s got an e-petition for Downing Street.  And he’s just fallen off a fucking cliff, on a horse.  But he’s landed, and he’s alright. And he’s got another horse.  And he’s heading for Millbank.  And he’s not stopping at Tate Britain on the way.

But.  And there is a but.  No-one can understand what Tom Hardy is saying.  I can’t understand what Tom Hardy is saying.  DiCaprio can’t understand what Tom Hardy is saying.  Even Tom Hardy can’t understand what Tom Hardy is saying.  Come to think of it, I can never understand what Tom Hardy is saying. In any film.  Maybe all directors are desperate to have Hardy-specific subtitles, but there’s a ‘no-subtitles clause’ that Hardy’s agent writes into every contract, lest his ego be bruised.  It’s like Hardy got sent the script from a mumblecore film by accident instead and learnt his lines and everyone was too scared to tell him, so they all just went along with it.

“Is that good, what I’m doing?  All the prowling and mumbling?”  Hardy probably mumbled to Iñárritu, during filming.  “What did Hardy just say?” Iñárittu probably whispered to an assistant.  “I can’t understand a word he’s saying.  Let’s sort that out in post.  Make a note to sort that out in post.”  Alas, the post-it note to to sort it out in post must’ve got lost.  Probably in the post. Lost in the post.

Shades of Enter The Void-style Gaspar Noe, with the omniscient floating camera. Shades of Uncle Boonmee, with the implication of a second, nature-based narrative.  Shades of Castaway, with the “WIL-SOOOOON!”.  Cameron might’ve face-fucked a dead pig, but DiCaprio’s been inside a dead horse.