[Image © The Los Angeles Times]
I’ve seen True Grit three times now. I
liked it better the second time than the first, and I liked it better
the third time than the second — although on the third viewing I managed
not to cry until the very end.
I saw the film at three
different theaters, each of which had digital projection. At the first
two theaters the image looked mushy at times, and slightly washed out
in certain scenes. I assumed this was due to the digital nature of the
presentation, but it wasn’t that, because at the last theater the film
looked spectacular — almost like a photochemical print. I could tell
that the movie was beautifully composed and lit on my first two
viewings, but on the third I really got to enjoy the beauty of it in a
more sensual way.
Hailee Steinfeld’s performance seemed
richer and more nuanced this time. The Coens obviously steered her
into doing less than she might have — going for bigger effects might
have exposed her inexperience as an actor — but holding back was also
right for the role. Once you realize how perfectly pitched her
performance is, how complex her reactions really are, you start paying
closer attention to her, and reacting more emotionally to what she’s
I loved sitting through the previews this time,
because they were so ghastly, like transmissions from another universe
than the one True Grit inhabits. All the “coming
attractions” looked like movies that have already been made, over and
over again — the products of that eternal circle-jerk that is
modern-day Hollywood. When True Grit comes on, you see an
original work of art — based on a novel, and the second film version
of that novel, but alive with new invention and new energy. It’s a
film that will always be brand new.
I think it’s one of the greatest Westerns ever made, worthy of Mann and Boetticher and even Ford — yes . . . even Ford.