True Grit (2010) (PG-13)
"True Grit" marks the beginning of my obsession with movies. I would like to say that "Inception" sparked the flame that now burns with intensity; but that would be a lie. Although it's the same year that "Inception" was released (2010 was exceptionally strong, it also included "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network") —"True Grit" is the one movie that I can remember being astonished, entertained, and overwhelmed by.
"True Grit" comes from the Coen brothers who remade the 1969 John Wayne classic. If I'm to be completely honest, I haven't seen the original and I'm not sure that I want to...taking other people's words, the remake outdoes the original.
The story is simple enough and deals with revenge (as in the dish best served cold). Mattie Ross is a girl on a mission, her father was killed by the coward Tom Chaney after a small dispute and some heavy drinking. Mattie leaves her family and travels far to reclaim her father's body and track down Chaney and take back the horse and gold pieces that he stole.
But Mattie knows her limits, she is small in frame but tenacious in mind. She enlists the help of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (the almost imperceptible Jeff Bridges in a fantastic role) a salty, screw-the-rulebook kind of man.
Chaney has made a name for himself in more than one town and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf is on his tail as well. But Mattie is determined to make Chaney hang for the murder of her father and not some other crime that crosses states's lines.
The idea of "True Grit" is retribution, retaliation, revenge, and justice. Mattie is such a bold character because she isn't after Chaney just for revenge (though that does play a large part of it); she's the law figure in the movie, which is ironic because she's accompanied by a Marshal and a Ranger. Justice must be served (but not cold, because that's how revenge is served....I should write a movie cookbook).
The movie becomes a pursuit of the wrongdoer, punctuated with the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms". Indeed the revenge does seem to have a Biblical connotation—the opening phrase scrawled on the screen is "The wicked flee when none pursueth. Proverbs 28:1" This would imply that the Old Testament "eye for an eye" type of justice is what is needed in the story to appease the relentlessness of our female lead.
"True Grit" truly is remarkable, Jeff Bridges steals the show with his garbled language and fierce attitude as Cogburn. But the movie belongs to Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross (though Matt Damon is incredibly enjoyable as LaBoeuf) who gained herself an Oscar nomination for her role.
Josh Brolin plays Chaney and could not be better, this is coming from a man who rarely has any screen time and when he appears, contradicts the stereotype that the viewer formed.
"True Grit" is full of unexpected treasures: smartly written scenes that show Mattie's intelligence and determination (in the form of bartering prices on horses), a test of skill and manhood between Cogburn and LaBoeuf (also humorous), and the simple scenes of heartbreaking reality that prove that life is not all that we assume it should be.
"True Grit" is quietly powerful, full of rich characters and tangled webs. The scenery, music, and acting are all perfect...it's a stunning picture.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones