MOVIE REVIEW: The Revenant
It’s a path in Cambodia. It’s jungle, dirt and leaves, jungle, dirt and leaves. We come across Leonardo diCaprio—presumably after a frantic running through said jungle—paused in a clearing, intersected with a singular beam of sunlight that survived the breach of trees whose solemn oath to the jungle floor was to keep it and its kin away from it. The trees’ failure illuminates diCaprio’s bearded face in microscopic detail as the camera pans around it, holding its structure closer than one feels comfortable. Everything pap smear close.
Caprio is paused, searching for something with his ears. Something, we assume, is hidden amongst the trees. We listen too, while searching his desperate green eyes for the moment his ears tell him they found that something. There is no building soundtrack, just Leonardo’s face, the sunbeam and the slow blur of jungle and we spin. Listening.
The movie continues in this spin. We wind with him. Every pore, every whisker,—even the snotted ones—slowly becoming cement in our brains. Was it the director’s goal to ensure each patron step away with a bust of diCaprio imprinted forever on their being? A permanent 3D memory from which to sculpt from?
The camera turns. Leo’s face, cheeks, hair, beard, chin, neck, shoulders, ears, eyes, nose, eyebrows, eyelashes, pores, face, cheeks, hair, beard, chin, neck, shoulders, ears, eyes, nose, eyebrows, eyelashes, pores. It’s a continual splay. I start to lose my gravity. Unknowingly, I reach out and find the seat-goer’s hand next to me, realizing its grasp only when it’s squeezed, more than firmly, in return. The woman on the opposite side of me takes my other hand and, one by one, the audience becomes a human chain. We become the jungle wrapped around di Caprio, but really, we are saving ourselves. From the drowning. His searching green eyes, how they panic.
The only variance, his breathing. I find myself holding on to it. The way it comes and goes in uneven ways. Wondering if it is primarily escaping through his slit-open mouth or through his nostrils; sliding down the slick-slimed whiskers that must’ve become so during his run through the thick Cambodian jungle before he reached this point of reconnaissance. I study how his lips sometimes meet, hiding his first few teeth that I have now counted and found the number over and over again to be seven. Occasionally reading secret messages in their movements, as if Leonardo diCaprio was trying to send me a clandestine dispatch or directive on how I could help him or why I was there and what was I good for.
The camera spins and we continue waiting for whatever it is that Leo is waiting for. A rustle in the surrounding foiliage? An attacker’s arrow? Knife? Sword? Bullet? Or perhaps it is a lover? Perhaps Leo is the pursuer and his target has momentarily evaded him? The full extent of his clothing, save his shoulders which look to be covered in a dark, rustic fabric, is not visible, so we cannot ascribe further clues to what role Leo might be playing. We just have his face, his face, his face, so we do not know, so we speculate. The camera spins and I do not know if I should worry for him and his potential peril, or raise anger toward him and his vicious chase with intent to slaughter or rape. Is this why I am here? To wonder? To guess? To build tangents of story while waiting still waiting and spinning and his facehischeekshiseyes? Am I splintering?
In an attempt to ground myself, I try following my own breath, but cannot. A panic wells inside me that I may not be breathing at all. I urinate in my seat. I feel the growing warmth and it comforts me like a mother-lain blanket. A dead person cannot piss, I think. Or I say it aloud, to Leonardo. The latter seems true. We are friends. Now.
The spin has become more of a spiral and I think, in my attempt to focus elsewhere than diCaprio’s face, I might have spotted some things hiding in the jungle; galloping herds of bison, blood-caked snow, a dark-skinned boy with a burn-scarred face, a woman floating horizontally in the air, her black hair hanging down like curtains. These glimpses gloam a lump of fear inside me dense as coal. An urge to fell one of the bison, slice its underneath from anus to collarbone and move into its warm, crimson guts erupts within me. What safety that would bring! What permanence and still!
The bones in one of my hands have broken. Not any of the fingers. The middle part where they all come together like a thick web. I believe, I may have, in turn, broken my other seatmate’s hand bones. While the pain is almost excruciating, we continue the grip. Each of us needing the saving. The reminder that we are elsewhere, and that we exist outside of Leonardo diCaprio’s shoulders, head, face and hair.
The movie ends in the same way it begins, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure it has ended. I cannot feel my hands. I can see nothing else than what I have been looking at for hours. (days?) Is this The Revenant? Am I?
The slicing takes less time than the work to fell the animal. His guts push out easy, steaming and vital. I push inside and its warmth and womb. Leo is there and we spin, paying no mind to the human chain staring back at us with dead, goat-eyes. We've already found our peace.