True Grit (with a spoiler)
December 28, 2010
I find I can’t really be objective about this one. It hit one of my major triggers fairly spectacularly toward the end, and I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else about it. Which means this is a very good movie that I’ll probably never be able to watch again.
I fully expect all the lead actors will get Oscar nominations. I really loved the language, which was nigh Shakespearean, formal and mythic, which a western ought to be. People keep proclaiming the western is dead, then every few years a great example of the genre comes along, and so people keep making them and I expect always will.
The movie’s about a lot of things. One of the things it’s about is a girl and her horse (a genre that’s almost as mythic and sacred as the western, really). Mattie is doing a very difficult thing, and she finds a friend to help her — a beautiful, wonderful horse who does everything she asks, who she can confide in, and so on. I fell in love with that horse the moment she did. On this, the Coen brothers had my number and dialed direct to my lizard brain. Which is why when I realized the horse was going to die — tragically, cruelly, with Mattie screaming the whole time — I pretty much lost it.
I once stayed up all night with my beautiful, beloved horse while she was dying of colic. She didn’t get better, and at dawn we put her to sleep. I knew exactly how Mattie felt. True Grit put me right back there. Now, good art is supposed to speak to us in deep and personal ways. I appreciate that. This is a good movie, and my reaction to it is idiosyncratic. But there it is.
It’s funny — sometimes I can watch movies or read stories in which horses die tragically and I’m fine. Last month in London, I went to see War Horse, a play about draft horses in World War I, which should have wreaked me, but I got through it without a problem. This one shouldn’t have been particularly unexpected — horses die in westerns all the time. This time, I think seeing exactly how it was going to happen (like staying up through the night with a colicking horse), and seeing it through the eyes of a teenage girl, made it particularly difficult.