I have to catch True Grit in a cinema before it ends its one week screening show. On a rainy Tuesday night (yes, it rained on a March), I have to buy ticket hastily after I got out of the office. There are many reasons why I have to watch this film: a) it is by the Coen Brothers, b) Hailee Steinfield, with Filipino roots, c) with 10 Academy Award nominations, d) Jeff Bridges. As if one of these reasons is reason enough.
I like the film. Okay, to be honest, I like it more than The King’s Speech (which won the Oscar’s Best Picture). And Hailee Steinfield should be nominated for Best Actress, not supporting. Yes, the Western cowboy story is simple, but you have to detach yourself from that angle because this is a Coen Brothers opus. One famous critic-writer said something like, for the Coen Brothers life is a series of inevitable events that cannot be altered. For example, if you are hit by a truck in the middle of the road, you really are hit not because you did not take precaution or you’re stupid to check your left and right before crossing. You are hit because it is your life, your destiny. True Grit is like that, too. When you watch it, it’s like you are just watching a prolong story of comboys, guns, horses, and the Western country.
Mattie Ross (Hailee) collects his father’s body after he was killed by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Adamant to look for her father’s killer, she hired the notorious Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) after seeing him in a murder case in a local court. She chose Rooster because he has “true grit.” Mattie, being a fourteen years old lass, is a strong-willed character with enough supply of law and justice, probably because of her filial upbringing. Jeff Bridges is, always, dependable and fit to play the role of the alcoholic US marshal. Matt Damon, as the Texan Ranger LaBoeuf, adds humor and wit to the film.
I love the movie. It is simple but presented with excellent, subdued performances. In an interview, the Coen Brothers said that the film is based on the book of the same title (author is Charles Portis), and not the 1969 film with John Wayne. They enjoyed the character of Mattie Ross, and describes her a “pill.” True enough, in the entire duration of the film, she carries the story gracefully with wit and bravado. If Mattie considers Rooster Cogburn as someone with True Grit, I (as part of the audience) considers her as the real one with true grit.
The novel is now part of the bestsellers list in Amazon.com. I am looking for the same in local bookstores in Manila but I cannot find it. I will definitely buy one if it becomes available. I hope it will be sooner, rather than later.