Monday, January 24, 2011

True Grit: truly gritty

Lots of reviews I read about this movie talked about how family friendly it was and how faithfully it followed the book.  Now, I read the book in junior high.  (I'm pretty sure it was somehow related to that Louis L'Amour binge [Sacketts forever!].)  True Grit was a great book, but it was not family friendly.  Especially the ending, which I think the movie softened a bit.

The movie was like Shakespeare meets the old west.  It was beautiful; from the scenery to the music to the language, which was word-for-word at times, this movie was gorgeously composed.  (And, like seeing Shakespeare's works performed live, they can take a bit of getting used to.)

It was also ugly, often hideously so.  It was a filthy time period and a violent culture.  The reviews were right about the acid-black humor.  It yanked laughs out of me several times, and the laughs burned with shame.  Oh, my poor country, with your racism and oppression and lies and dreams . . .  Oh, my poor fallen world full of such sin and sadness and consequences.  No one else in the theater seemed to appreciate the good biblical allusion jokes in there?  (That dried bones one was priceless.)

I'll be honest: I have difficulty with realistic depictions of violence, and this movie made me quite sick to my stomach a couple of times.  It wasn't quite as bad as Dark Knight overall (which was incredibly brutal, always cutting off a microsecond before the R-rated violence actually began), but I wish they hadn't called True Grit PG-13, especially the cabin scene, which almost made me throw up.  (Seriously, how is that PG-13?!)  I know my limits, and I think they're firmly set at PG for violence henceforth.

(I'm so glad I can't visualize this stuff when I read, or I wouldn't be able to read most of the books I love.)

So, do I recommend it?  Yes.  If you have a tolerance for PG-13 violence, you should see this in a theater.  If you don't, maybe you should stick with the book (or the book on tape, if a good one exists).  It's an excellent revenge tragedy with a dark sense of humor and a lyricism brought to life by some great cinematography and performances by talented actors.

And remember, it's always best to let sleeping corpses lie.

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