The spectacle of Lenny DiCaprio emerging bare-chested in the snow from the belly of a dis-embowelled steed was all very arresting, but his improbable and unexplained discovery of an adequate winter wardrobe diminished my pleasure. Why, oh why, do directors treat us like dills?
I went to the movies in mid-afternoon the other day to see The Revenant. I had intended to see it the week before but it was only playing around noon. Going to the movies by oneself at noon is, to me, like having dinner at 5 pm before retiring to bed at 9 pm. It is, in a word, depressing.
I was a little early and decided to buy a coffee in the foyer. The young woman behind the counter was talking to a fellow cinemagoer at the far end of the counter. In a plummy voice he was saying that he had recently seen Stars Wars and couldn’t make head nor tail of it. “It was rubbish,” he said. “It was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think.” He went on, “Tell me, what is this Wookie character?”
As an aside, I am not sure what Star Wars movie this was, not being a fan. Apparently they have reissued the first. I saw a young American woman on TV say, amusingly, that she hadn’t been to see the latest Star Wars because she had been too busy doing cool things and being attractive. These reasons are not available to me, even in jest.
Anyway, back to the counter. The man and young lady both noticed that I was waiting. The man was of my generation – most of those in the afternoon sessions are of my generation. We get cheaper seats as seniors; a small consolation for advancing years. He invited the young woman to serve me but was insistent that she return afterwards to explain various aspects of the movie that he couldn’t understand.
The young woman and I exchanged smiles as the man plaintively repeated his request that he would really like her to tell him more about the movie. I doubt, somehow, that evening cinemagoers engage the young woman in an interrogative conversations about Wookies. But who knows?
Once in the cinema there was an interminable period during which ads and previews were shown. I grew fidgety. This fidgetiness was a prelude to more fidgetiness during the overlong movie. Now I give the movie 3½ out of 5, so it isn’t all that bad. But it doesn’t get to the get the 4 or 4½ mark, which means I would have watched it again. Movies like Jackie Brown and History of Violence I have watched repeatedly because I gave them both 5. But there are numbers of movies I will watch again – like The Edge – which fall a little short of this highest accolade.
The problem to my mind with Revenant is that the plot is too simple for two hours and thirty six minutes. There are no sub-plots to add interest. Basically, stripped of the daunting and desolate winter scenario in the 1820s in North America, bit players, including the perfidious French and convincing Indians, there is Leonardo DiCaprio and one baddie. The baddie does a bad thing, as baddies do, and after an eventful and arduous journey of survival DiCaprio catches up with him. It is possibly worth seeing — once — if you have a few hours to spare.
An annoying feature of the movie was wardrobe anomalies. I had a similar problem with the movie The Edge, which I’ll come to. At one point DiCaprio is caught short by the Indians, having just awoken. He flees camp on his horse, leaving lots behind including, so far as I could tell, his heavy clothing. The following events I can accept, just: during the ensuing chase the Indians lose all of their skill with bows and arrows, which they had earlier demonstrated. They also had powder and shot guns ‘sold’ to them by the French in exchange for furs, but I can understand their lack of skill with these. DiCaprio escapes as his horse plunges over a steep ravine.
His horse, severely injured by the fall, lies dead. He manages to escape with no injury worse than being winded because a tree breaks his fall. He is cold. He disembowels the horse, removes his shirt and that’s all and, bare-chested, shelters inside the carcase. As I’ve said, all of this I accept because it happened that way in the world of the movie.
What I could not accept is that, having emerged from the carcass, DiCaprio donned winter clothing that looked as though it had come out of a rather well-stocked outdoor clothing store. Where the heck did it come from?
In The Edge, city dwellers Anthony Hopkins (billionaire) and Alec Baldwin (photographer and bounder with designs on Hopkins’s model wife, Ali Macpherson), having killed the man-eating bear, emerge next morning with bearskin coats which surely would have required the skill of a furrier. Fine! Unarmed, they killed this monster of a bear. This I can believe. But how in the world could they have skinned the bear and made themselves coats with such skill? They simply couldn’t.
It’s highly unlikely but I might just be able kill a large alligator with my bare hands after it has dragged me under from a river bank. However, no-one could believe, even in their wildest imaginings, that I could make a pair of smooth-looking alligator shoes to trudge on home with. When this kind of thing happens in movies, it breaks the spell, and reminds me that it isn’t real, it’s just a movie. That is not what one wants.