I confess it has been a while since I watched a movie. We have enjoyed various TV series this past year, but now that have we have bid Netflix Streaming adieu, we are finally able to focus on our large movie queue.
True Grit is a lot of fun. The story focuses on a 14 year old girl named Mattie Ross. She is bold and unrelenting in pursuing her goal of finding the man who killed her father and to ensure that he dies as a result. In an attempt to find an able man to track Tom Chaney (her father’s killer), she is introduced to Rooster Cogburn, played by the inimitable Jeff Bridges. Cogburn is an old drunk who through the tenacity of Mattie Ross and the promise of $100 reward decides to take on the task. Mattie wants to go with Cogburn, but Cogburn says that this is no task for a little girl. And this is when Mattie’s commitment to her mission becomes more evident as she pursues both Cogburn and Texas Ranger Laboeuf (Matt Damon) with Little Blackie (her horse). Laboeuf begins with utter non-sympathy towards Mattie, but as the movie unfolds they grow deeply connected.
The movie is truly a masterpiece with great acting (most notably Jeff Bridges and the young star, Hailee Steinfield; I suspect we will see her again in the next few years). The lines are memorable. Here area a few great ones:
Mattie Ross: You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.
Rooster Cogburn: We’ll sleep here and follow in the morning.
Mattie Ross: But we promised to bury the poor soul inside!
Rooster Cogburn: Ground’s too hard. Them men wanted a decent burial, they should have got themselves killed in summer.
Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Rooster Cogburn: That’s right.
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backwards. I always go backwards when I back up.
Col. Stonehill: I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough.
True Grit is replete with Old Gospel music background. The soundtrack reminded me of a country revival. It is really a delightful story. The movie poses some interesting questions concerning states’ rights. States had a lot more say in those days concerning justice. Yet, one theme that prevails is that if you murder a man your life will be taken, echoing Genesis 9:6. In this Wild West age injustice cannot escape the determination of a 14 year old.
Cogburn’s self-sacrifice in the end redeems this poor “old and fat man,”as he describes himself. LaBoeuf understands loyalty too. In fact, True Grit is loyalty and friendship and great humor. I strongly recommend it.