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March 1, 2011 / Prof Cupcake.

Not really that gritty

True Gritt.

 

Nothing is as wonderful as the 1970’s very idealized American old west. That mythological land where good guys where beige and the bad guys where black and shoot out often end favorable and the hero always rides off into the sun set with his horse his gun and only the sky for company. So every once and a while an entire town get slaughtered or a bandit mows down the entire staff of a train company but those deaths were always so very mythological to the point that they were more weights on out hero’s troubled mind then the corpses of characters. 19— —– by CLINT EASTWOOD, the original gunslinger changed all that. striped from the west was its color coded cheat sheet to characters true intentions and our ability to easily sluff off the moral weight of a town filled with the dead and dying. He took the western out of the realm of stories and brought it to life as a powerful parable for a generation of men and women grown older while the weight of inescapable inhumanity theaters them to a morbid past.

I was expecting TRUE GRITT to reach equally loft heights. With the large Oscar buzz and it’s very status as a COEN BROTHERS film, I was expecting to come out of the cinema a transformed man. (well at lest one with a transformed view of the Western Genre.) As they have done so deftly before, I was expecting a film that challenged my conceptions of both the genre within they have chosen to work this time as well as the nature of narrative and story. I was expecting this film to expose some quintessential part of human instinct to me like a succulent meat dish served by a penguin coated waiter. So granted I had high expectations and though the film did not utterly disappoint, it is technically brilliant and stupendously acted, it lacked an edge I have come to associate with the COEN BROTHERS unique style of filmmaking.

True Gritt, follows the stuggle of ever so precocious  MATTIE (Hailee Steinfeld) who after the death of her father at the hands of  Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) rides into town in the hopes of both setteling his affairs and bringing his killer to justice. After forming a unique and often fragile working relationship with both Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) they journey deep into the heart of the west in a goose chase for her fathers killer, a man wanted by many.

The plot is traditional and straight forward, being based upon 1969’s True Gritt which of course was based upon True Grit by Charles Portis. As such the narrative is rather traditional and lacks the surrealist edge that has often tinged if not inundated their work. It is also all together unexciting. Slow moving and lacking in any narrative twists and turns the film unfolds before you in a languid fashion. Not that this is strictly a bad thing, it draws to mind the vastness of the plains and the general lack of excitement that must have dominated the west. There are several wonderfully scripted and hilarious exchanges between the characters, which serve to break the monotony yet the film continues with an almost metronomic dedication to monotony.

The acting is superb. Mostly from Hailee Steinfled who is entrancing to watch as Mattie Yet given the strength of her performance, it is hard to see past her and she actually outshines both Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Only Josh Brolin in a near cameo performance as Tom Chaney is capable of holding his own against that little 12 year old acting banshee.

While worth the watch for its often eloquent dialogue and stunning acting, the narrative, (potentially do to its dedication to its source material) is rather tired and is not wholly captivating. In verges on being reduced to a strangely gritty feel good film, which I can hardly imagine was the intent, and leaves you wanting more.

 

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