In ‘The Revenant,’ Something Bothered me


Mark and I went to see that movie The Revenant last week, mostly because it got five stars and lots of awards. But first I had to look up what “revenant” means. I know you also did this, but just in case you didn’t, it means “an animated corpse that is believed to have returned from the grave to terrorize the living.”

And, yes, that is the plot of the film. Leonardo DiCaprio returns from sinking with the Titanic to… no, wait. That was the other DiCaprio film I saw. (I’m not a big movie-goer.)

This time, poor Leonardo is mauled by a bear and left for dead by his fellow trappers. One guy is supposed to stay with him, but he doesn’t. So, as soon as he can move, Leonardo sets out to get this guy.

There follows two and a half hours of man vs. the elements as Leonardo drags his clawed-up body across the frozen tundra. I thought this would be boring, but it wasn’t. There was plenty of action as our hero met up with every conceivable obstacle along the way. What keeps him going is occasional visions of his deceased wife, smiling enigmatically in a “you-can-do-it!” kind of way.

Actually, I liked the movie until the very end when he finally confronts his deserter. The inevitable brawl ensues, during which time the deserter feels the need to add insult to injury by accusing Leonardo’s character of raising a “girly bitch” son.

And that’s when they lost me. I mean, really? It distresses me to think these are the most despicable insults the screenwriters could come with for their life-or-death scene. And yes, I blame the writers, amazingly both male. Because it doesn’t make sense. The credit for keeping Leo going goes to his wife (a girl) and the credit for ripping him to shreds in the first place goes to a bitch (technically, a sow). If it weren’t for those two, there wouldn’t have been a movie at all. Kudos especially to the bear.

And you may say, “Oh, lighten up, for heaven’s sake! It’s just a movie!” but the fact that female viewers are just supposed to accept the fact that “girly” is the worst thing you can call someone in a time of stress rankles me. It’s as bad as, “You throw like a girl!”

Of course, grown-up girls like myself have their self-esteem to prop them up. We know who we are and that we are “equal to but different from” the male segment of the population. It may take some people longer to admit this than others, but it’s true. However, I do worry about young girls hearing that line in the script — young girls whose self-esteem already plummets as they enter their teen years. We need to keep that from happening, and watching our language would help.

Just saying.