True Grit

9:49 AM

A Coen Brother's western with Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch - what else do we need?

What called my attention the most about True Grit was the things that called Imdb user's attention about True Grit. I couldn't believe the topics of discussion in the movie's page. It sums up to: the movie was too violent, the language used by the characters was unrealistic and the performance of 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld was either underrated or overrated.

None of that even crossed my mind while watching the movie. I didn't think the movie was that violent. I'm usually very sensitive when it comes to violence, especially unnecessary violence, and I wasn't bothered or shocked by True Grit. As a matter of fact, despite having a very westerny story ("After a drifter murders her father, 14-year-old Mattie hires an alcoholic US Marshal  to help her exact revenge") the movie is also a compelling drama and a little bit of an action movie. I sure recommend this for people who, like me, are not western fans. 

Secondly, the whole deal about the language - are we all History buffs all of a sudden? During the movie, I only noticed that it was difficult to understand what Jeff Bridges was saying, but I put on the subtitles and moved on. If we feel a bunch of uneducated criminals were talking too eloquently, well, shame on us. 

Lastly, there's Hailee Steinfled. People have this thing when it comes to young actors. Let's face it, it gets us and them nowhere. Take a look at another young actor with a similar name: Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense.  People were all over him after The Sixth Sense and where is he now? That movie was more than 10 years ago, can you name other good movies he's done? So, Hailee did a great job in True Grit, let's leave it at that.

Actually, I was expecting more talk about her character, Mattie. This is what really made the movie interesting for me. Unlike most westerns, this had a great female character who kept me intrigued. 

Think about it. What does she have going for her? Her father has just been killed. She is a 14 year old girl in a world filled with men with guns. Nobody gives her credit. And yet, she is brave and persistent. I'm not just talking about the fact that she is willing to spend time with a US Marshal and a Texas Ranger looking out for a criminal (and all that entails). But even before that, she is smart and brave. She had me on that negotiation scene. 

She handled that situation perfectly and got what she wanted. Yes, I envy her. I don't have the guts to bargain (plus, I think it's a little cheap, but the main reason is the non-guts thing). 

Then there's the scene where Cogburn and La Boeuf decide to leave without her and she just doesn't accept it. She is the perfect example of a person who puts her money where her mouth is. She faces a great deal of hardship ranging from sleeping with corpses, to sleeping next to an old lady who pulls the blankets to sleeping in the wilderness with snakes and God knows what.

But, most importantly, she has a real sense of justice and duty.

Her character is so unique and amazing because movies are so ready to thrown in historical inaccuracies and plainly forget common sense just for the sake of pleasing feminists. 

I'm sure you can think of plenty of examples, but take the last version of The Three Musketeers. Milady de Winter was a seductive woman and a spy for Cardinal Richelieu. This 2011 version portrays her as a ninja. (You needn't see the movie, to get the gist of it check the trailer, around 1:00).

Movies are too hasty in selling us this idealized version of the past where everything is as modern as the present. One of the many problems with doing this is that you make it seem there was no way for women to be heroines in the past.

Women's bravery does not necessarily have to do with physical skills. Mattie is a true role model because she doesn't go after Tom Chaney by herself - she goes with two other guys whose jobs was to persecute criminals. She is extremely independent and smart but there is nothing unrealistic about her. She makes the most out of the resources she has: her intelligence and her endurance (plus some legal knowledge).

She reminds me of the two female leads from Gone with the Wind, Scarlett and Melanie. All of these  three women were ready to suffer and sacrifice for their families. Their strength is in the ability to struggle and to survive and not in the ability to be a high heeled ninja - with make up on.

As far as I could tell, Rooster Cogburn was not the only one who had true grit.

Have you seen any of the versions of True Grit? What other movies have great (or terrible) heroines?

Image via FYMovie Posters

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  1. great post! i'm more of a clint eastwood western kind of person, so this movie was ok to me. i didn't notice all this details you mentioned, i only thought of how much i dislike matt demon. =D
    i think i'm gonna watch it again.
    melanie is the best heroine, she has a strong heart and scarlett is just dumb. what a great movie.
    keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the kind words! Those are great movies, aren't they? I was so surprised that I liked True Grit. I might even watch the older version too (or not - I couldn't stand 10 minutes of The man who shot Liberty Valance and that had Jimmy Stewart in it, so...) Have a great weekend ;)


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