16.2.11

True Grit

Will Self on the money. Little to add but affirmation. There is this sense of ironic detachment, of films about films, to the Coens. They remain pretty damn guarded in their work as well as in interviews.

Just two techy things. Hailee Steinfeld is incredible in the lead role, particularly in the shift from hardass to wide-eyed enthusiasm as she gets on the trail. Btw yes, she does have the LEAD role. My friends were discussing this after the film. Apparently the awards slot her into the supporting actress category, which is crazy. Damon and Brolin have bit parts compared to her. I guess the names count for more than the work...

Second, not enough has been said about how funny the film is. It's hilarious, sometimes just because you don't know what the frack Jeff Bridges is saying. Related to this is the discussion about how realistic the film is, what with its switching idioms and its impressive protagonist (she does have the truest of grit). The comedy gives you the clue to the answer on this one. If the Coens make films about films, then fiddling with genre is at the heart of it. It's supposed to be ridiculous, unbelievable. It's art.

On the substance, the ending was really quite touching, but the 25-years-later coda left me somewhat cold. Matty Ross was cold. True grit didn't buy you very much, did it? And yet the film portrayed her adult character straight, almost as if she was a-ok. For me, there was a disconnect there, which drained some of the emotion built up by Rooster's chivalry. He ended up a circus entertainer. That's where grit has ended up in the New America. Good point, and maybe I'm just not being pessimistic and 'mature' enough, but I could have done without the crash back to reality. Just leave me to my fantasies of the rugged but noble Wild West...

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