Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Revenant (15)

I have been trying to write this review for three days.

The rule here at Popcorn Towers is simple - watch the film, write the film as soon as possible afterwards. The aim being to try and capture exactly how a film made you feel.

But how do you do that when the film makes you feel nothing?

How do you try and get your feelings down on paper (in old money) when you're just left baffled and numbed by what you've been subjected to?

How do you try and analyse something when that something is two-and-a-half hours of nothing?

I wanted to like this film, I really really did.

The trailers looked good, the buzz was good, Leonardo DiCaprio fights a bear, it's got Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson in leading roles - this should, at the very least, been good.

And it starts off promisingly.

Slow, atmospheric, building the drama - only it never gets going, never takes off, never actually goes anywhere.

And it takes the best part of 150 minutes to not go anywhere.

To be fair, there are positives - it looks stunning, and should be hoovering up every cinematography award going.

And there are a couple of moments of genuine tension - not least during the bear scrap - and Leo puts in a fine performance.

He may only be grunting and crawling about for most of the film, but he grunts and crawls well.

But sweet mother does this film have problems.

Hardy seemingly couldn't choose between two different accents, so gives both a go - and only one of them is actually discernible - while the story is more than a little far fetched.

Now, I know this is based on a true story. DiCaprio's Hugh Glass existed. But I'm willing to bet that in telling his tale he more than stretched the truth.

He should die on at least three separate occasions. He's mauled by a bear in sub-zero conditions. There are other things I can't give away, but as I type this I can feel a rant coming so i'd better stop.

But the biggest problem is the pacing.

It's slow. So, so slow.

Leo dragging his shattered carcass across the frozen tundra is about as fast as anything goes.

For two-and-a-half hours.

Yeah, sure, you know it's a long film when you go in, but when you check your watch after an hour and your heart sinks because you were sure it had been two you know things are not going well.

All of which is borderline criminal.

When so much effort has been put in to making this film look so good as it does, and when the actors have been frozen as they filmed in real winter conditions, the very least you expect is the finished product to be gripping.

Mind you, it's not like director Inarritu doesn't have previous.

Last year he gave us Birdman. Before that, 21 Grams and Babel. Frankly you have to wonder why anyone gives him a camera.

He clearly has ideas, he clearly can sell a concept to a studio. But somewhere between page and screen something goes horribly wrong.

The normal comment is that you could shave 20 minutes off a film and not miss anything. Here, you could lose an hour.

That way, the three disparate strands Inarritu fails to mesh together might have stood a chance.

Instead, you're left walking into night wondering why the hell you stayed til the end when you could have been doing so much more with your life.

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