*NEW* THE REVENANT REVIEW *NEW*

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A revelation? An Oscar worthy performance from the man of the hour?

In a nutshell, NO.

A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Overlong, over-rated and disappointing. I really wanted to like this. For all the praise, Twitter craze and reviews, I expected a well-acted visceral and brutal tour de force with one man seeking vengeance. Is this really the film that gave Leonardo his overdue Oscar? Really?

The first 45 minutes were slow burning BUT engrossing. Inarritu’s long takes used to full effect. A tense encounter with a pack of bloodthirsty natives made for a tense and brutal watch. It was a shame that momentum wasn’t kept for the rest of the piece.

DiCaprio delivered a good turn. There’s no quarrelling about that. BUT an Oscar? He certainly carried the piece as much as he could. BUT there was only so many picturesque landscape shots (from the Oscar winning and Innaritu stalwart Emmanuel Lubezki) and grunting from the leading man that could keep me interested.

I was more impressed by the underrated British and Irish supporting cast. Domhnall Gleeson continues to impress yet again in another scene stealing supporting role (Ex Machina and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) was equally as good as the conflicted Bridger. A great transition from the Son of Rambow star.

And once you were able to understand Tom Hardy’s (Legend) incessant Southern mumbling, he was the perfect foe. He really looked the part. A weasel of the lowest denomination. Back stabbing and plotting at any given opportunity. If it wasn’t for Hardy’s performance, I don’t think I would have persevered to see the outcome.

The grizzly bear attack sequence was nail-biting stuff. The animation and a little improv from DiCap made this a tense show down and almost realistic, to an extent. The elongated attack kept me on tenterhooks. Thinking our hero was safe. Only for the grizzly menace to come back for more.

The only problem was that the rest of the film was spent watching DiCap crawl, growl and shiver across the frozen terrain and woodland. Broken up by metaphorical imagery and flashbacks that were pretty self-explanatory. I was more interested in Hugh (DiCap) and Hawk’s (Forrest Goodluck) relationship. Something that was barely touched on and reduced to a few scenes.

DiCap really went through it. Putting his Bear Grylls skills to work. Chewing raw fish and enduring arctic conditions. BUT I wasn’t hooked. I wanted to be rooting for the guy from the first minute. Tom Hank’s turn in Cast Away had me transfixed. I never felt so sad about a man losing his volleyball. Matt Damon’s Oscar nominated turn in The Martian had me praying for his return home.

I love Innaritu’s works. Birdman was one of my favourite films of 2015. It was different and featured a resurgent performance from Keaton. DiCaprio is a superb actor BUT I felt that he got the Oscar for the wrong film.

A good portion of Hugh’s “journey” tested my patience. I don’t need horse back chases and natives attacking every minute of the movie to keep my attention (Although it might have helped) BUT for two and a half hours, I needed something more. The showdown made for a redemptive finale in every aspect. Both for our hero and yours truly. And that was down to Hardy’s turn. I really wanted to see him get his comeuppance.

Maybe this was a case of too much hype. From all the reviews, you would have thought that nobody had ever seen a Western before. The plot was hardly original, the pace was too much and DiCaprio did his best BUT I would struggle to watch this again. Let alone put this on a top movie list.

Watchable BUT nowhere near as rewarding as I’d hoped.

3/5

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*NEW* BROOKLYN REVIEW *NEW*

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A great cast reprieved this pleasantly easygoing (if slightly underwhelming) drama.

An Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

Ronan has developed into quite the actress. Brooklyn was the perfect showcase for her. She gave an excellent performance and carried the piece very well. BUT for all the hype and praise, I expected so much more. BUT that’s not to say, I didn’t enjoy it.

The opening half hour was easygoing enough as Eilis (Ronan) prepared to embark on the journey of a lifetime. The petty squabbling with Brid Brennan’s scornful shopkeeper and teary send offs with Eilis’ sister and mother kept things ticking over.

Her journey to America certainly picked up the pace. The conditions in which she travelled in were surprising. Crammed into small compartments and forced to share the same toilet. Things got even worse when the poor girl suffered from food poisoning.

Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss) delivered a memorable turn in the small role of Eilis’ seasoned travel companion. Sending Eilis on her way with some handy advice. Once Eilis got to America, the pace did slacken BUT you could feel for her as she struggled to fit in with her job at a department store with the stern Miss Fortini (Mad Men’s Jessica Pare).

The homesick letter sequences between Eilis and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott – Omagh) managed to crack the most cynical of critics. I noticed a few teary eyes. No, not mine. I loved how they conveyed their relationship over a few simple letters. Well done.

Julie Walters was brilliant and on fine form as the hilarious and uptight boarding house keeper Mrs Keogh. I couldn’t believe that Felicity Smoak from Arrow (Emily Bett Rickards) featured as one of the vindictive boarding house girls. Desperate to snag a man.

Jim Broadbent gave a stellar supporting performance as Father Flood and delivered a convincing Irish accent. Aiding Eilis in her time of need. I really wished he was in this more. BUT of course, it wasn’t long before our heroine fell in love. Awww (Yuck).

Emory Cohen wasn’t strong enough for me as Tony. He didn’t quite pull off the cheeky Italian American that well. BUT he did have good chemistry with Ronan which made up for the hammy performance and I was happy to watch the pair’s blossoming romance.

However after receiving some tragic news, Eilis must return home. I will admit I haven’t read the novel and if it wasn’t for the heavily flogged trailers, the news would have been more of a shocker. Alas it was not to be.

Eilis must make a choice to stay home or go back to the love of her life as more and more temptations are thrown in her path. Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) did well with the role of Jim Farrell BUT the character didn’t really have enough screen time to make a convincing option for Eilis. I understand that it might have been a retread of what we had already seen with Tony BUT you could see how he was appealing to Eilis on a different level.

For the all the potential drama hanging over her with the community and her mother’s desperate efforts to keep her home, it didn’t quite kick off as much as I had expected. It was all far too tame.

Director John Crowley (Boy A) and writer Nick Hormby (About A Boy) only scraped the surface of immigration. A touching scene where Eilis assists at a soup kitchen hit home. The majority of the homeless being Irish immigrants who had tried to find a better life in America.

BUT it was a little too light and fluffy. Despite some touching moments and that meandering build up, the ending was quite rushed and far too abrupt for my liking.

A superb cast and an easygoing pace do just enough to keep things watchable. BUT for all the praise, I was left wanting. Shame.

3/5 (Just)