therevenantChoose Your Friends Wisely
The Revenant
Stars: Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Brendan Fletcher, Kristofer Jones, Brad Carter and Lukas Haas
Director: Alejandro G. Inarittu
Scriptwriters: Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Inarittu based on the book by Michael Punke
Composers: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto and Bryce Dessner
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Regency Films/20th Century Fox
Rating: R for violence and profanity
Running Length: 156 Minutes
Be sure to take your jacket and gloves into the movie theater, as this film is set in the frozen north country. Survival is the key element in this story, set in the early 1800’s. A man (Hugh Glass played by Leonardo Di Caprio) is left for dead by his companions…except he isn't. How to get help which is miles and miles away, battle snow and ice and wild animals, plus find food and protection from the elements. This situation really happened to Glass, and the Jim Bridger played by Will Poulter was the famous western explorer, Jim Bridger of the middle 1800's. The Glass experience sounds something like Matt Damon in “The Martian,” except this is planet Earth, but one thing in common---both men were pioneers. 
“The Revenant” (which means coming back) begins with a group of fur trappers and soldiers pitching camp, but wary of the Native American Arikara tribes. Soon, there is a battle, with the military leader, Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) leading the way. Later, in a forest, one of the trappers, Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio) meets a mother grizzly bear defending her cubs and she proceeds to beat and claw Glass. He is severely wounded and the rest of the group try to carry him out, but he is slowing them down. The military leader offers men a cash amount if they will stay with Glass. Finally, Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) agrees to stay behind while the rest go ahead. During this time, Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass and is found out. He commits murder and buries a still-alive Glass. No one is the wiser. However---the will to live and survive is great and Glass claws out of the ground and from then on, it is a trek to the nearest outpost in spite of Native Americans out for revenge and Fitzgerald who eventually finds out that Glass is alive and can testify against him. There are chases, hair-breath escapes, beatings, and always, the search for food and warmth. Throughout all of this, I did not notice a sign of frostbite on Glass, though he barely has enough clothing for winter.  Just saying….
Though Native Americans here are called savages and to be feared, that is not always true. What is actually to be feared, are the people from one’s own ethnic group. Trust is not something they understand, but greed, they do. As far as acting is concerned, Di Caprio is always the person in the scene you don't recognize, by being covered with hair, mud or rags. His acting is of a person in shock, who has to think of survival mode in a moment’s notice, plus there are flashbacks of a former life. Tom Hardy, as Fitzgerald, is the epitome of evil, and no one stands in his way. Hardy may be competing with himself if  “Legend” is considered in the running at Oscar nomination time. He portrayed the twin gangster Kray brothers of 1980 England, there.
Will Poulter as Bridger, is the young, frightened sidekick who seems to be one step away from being eliminated. Domhnail Gleeson is a military officer with control of a band of surly men in a hostile environment and always the danger of mutiny in the ranks. As characters go, the four could be set in any era and any climate---hero, villain, sidekick and leader figure, and there would be a story. Here, the setting is the frigid north country of America, in the early 1800’s and the weather is always against you, even though the sunrises and sunsets are gorgeous. Add a top photographer and a composer who goes with the terrain, and you have a film to contemplate. The treatment of horses is to be questioned, though.
At over two and a half hours, “The Revenant” is a study in survival in a “Perils of Pauline” mode. The unexpected is always there and usually detrimental. Scenery is magnificent.  This movie began filming in Canada, but there was warm weather, so some work was in Argentina. Now that is a travel budget. Acting is very good, though with beards and heavy clothing, it is sometimes difficult to tell the men apart. The only woman’s role is that of a Native American woman. The quest for adventure in new territory is always something to propel men forward, but consequences come with it, and definitely the unexpected. Courage must have been part of their DNA. This film is sure to be noticed at Oscar nomination time. 
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner