Smart Girls Die Alone: What I learned from True Grit (movie review)

0 No tags Permalink

I’m not a big cowboy fan and I don’t know the background of True Grit. I just watched the movie (Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon) because my term papers are due and I’m procrastinating. And it’s not bad, at all as far as movies go. I quite liked it. Luckily I wasn’t looking for ethical maxims or moral inspiration however, as the lessons to be learned from this brutal and almost deterministically meaningless film are few.

Here’s the run-down: a super precocious, daring and intelligent girl with excellent business skills hires a bounty hunter to find and kill her father’s murderer. In the beginning of the movie I was rooting for Hailee as she spoke circles around the adults, followed Bridges into the bar and then the bathroom, and then chased him screaming foul-play when he attempted to ditch her.

Matt Damon had the more sensible idea of teaching the brat a lesson with a good spanking, but Bridges wanted some young company to share his yarns with so she comes along. Yes, she’s brave and daring. Should she have been allowed to go into the wild and hunt down a murderer alone with two older men while her mother was at home worried? NO.

A lot of people get shot and die, Bridges turns out to be a drunk, and Damon abandons her in the woods, deciding it’s time to go home. So this isn’t a movie about heroes – it’s a movie about real, flawed characters. Fine. In that case… we should expect a turnaround, right? There’s always a low point or rough patch where the characters show their weaknesses.

And – tadaa – right on cue, when Hailee is kidnapped by a gang of bandits, including her father’s killer, Damon and Bridges team up to rescue her.

There’s a point in the movie where Hailee is alone with her father’s killer, and he’s complaining about his tough life and bad luck. He reminds me of Lennie from “Of Mice and Men” or Charlie from “Flowers for Algernon”. I was kind of expecting Hailee to feel bad for him and decide to forgive him. Instead, a short while later, she grins with zealous glee before shooting him point blank with a shotgun. So much for forgiveness.

She falls in a big freaking hole that appears out of nowhere and gets bitten by a snake. Bridges runs her horse to death and then carries her to the nearest town in time to save her life; although they had to amputate her arm.

So, is there a happy ending? Is there any meaning to this story? No. Bridges abandons her and never sees her again. Damon goes back to Texas and never contacts her. She grows up, alone, with one arm. She never gets married. She got an invitation to visit Bridges but he dies before she got there. One of the old men she meets was one of the bad guys, so she tells him to rot in hell (or something like that). She’s learned little and is as stubbornly righteous as ever.

What lesson can we take away? Smart, outspoken and precocious little girls will grow up and be lonely; nobody will love them. They will be crippled and “incomplete” without a man, spinsters with a sharp wit but a cold bed.

I’m not saying I believe it; it just seems to be the point of the movie. Have you seen it? What did you get out of it?