A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Take on True Grit

After weeks of waiting for its release here, the husband and I went to see the new adaptation of True Grit yesterday. I say, "adaptation" not "remake" because both True Grit films are based on a novel by Charles Portis. Although I loved the older John Wayne version, I thought this version by the Coen Brothers was pretty decent overall if a tad slow moving early on. There's a bleakness about it that's both haunting and beautiful to look at.
It's been eons since I read Portis' novel or seen the first film so my memories of both are pretty hazy. It has been 2 decades at least since I last revisited either.
Although most people associate the first film with John Wayne and his character Rooster Cogburn, the story is really about the 14-year-old Mattie Ross who is the catalyst behind the plot. She's an impressive 14 year old with an impressive business sense and a spine made of steel. The plot is fairly straightforward. Mattie's father Frank was shot and killed by Tom Chaney and she wants him caught and punished for his sins. Hence she seeks out the best man for the job...  and settles on Marshall Rooster Cogburn... a man, she has heard, who has "true grit".

By the end of the film, you are left in no doubt who it is who has "true grit". It isn't one of those growing up stories because Mattie Ross is already a grown up. A 14-year old girl in those days was a woman. It's refreshing to see this kind of maturity in one so young... and I include myself in this... when we consider how increasingly frivolous subsequent generations of 14 year olds have become. It's just an observation, mind you, but the more wealthy we become, the more our children become overprotected and stunted.

Aside from the wonderful performance of the amazing Hallie Steinfeld, the other thing I really enjoyed was recurring use of the old hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".
It's odd, it seems to me, that we don't hear many of these hymns at church anymore and it's ironic when they pop up in a Hollywood film of all places. It's not out of place here and does fit the context in which the people of that era lived.

In spite of  the superb acting that screams "Oscar" in every scene, I hesitate to recommend it to just anyone. The husband and I found it rather humorous... the dialogue especially. But therein also lies the problem. That kind of old west/civil war patois can be hard to understand or follow if you haven't been bred on it. It's rather quaint. It's a shame that you probably have to be a fan of the genre to really appreciate it.

1 comment:

Let me know what you think!