Reverence for The Revenant

I really, really wanted to love Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant — and I did to an extent — but it does not have the emotional heft to match the operatic grandeur of its settings and cinematography. Rumors drifted back all throughout last year about the painstaking shoot in subzero Canadian wilderness, Leo DiCaprio’s flea-bitten beard (not true) and Iñárritu’s insistence on photographing the film strictly with natural light, the last of which lends the film a magical glow perhaps only seen in the films of Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick. The master director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki has shot several films for Malick, won the Oscar the past two years for Birdman and Gravity and will win again this year: bet on it. Thus, the primary star of The Revenant is the film’s stark natural beauty. It overwhelms the senses with images and experiences as disgusting as consumption of a raw buffalo liver, refuge taken inside the innards of a hollowed-out horse and, of course, a gruesome, ferocious bear mauling.