I have been a fan of the Cohen brothers for about five or six years now (yeah I know I’m late to the game but at least I got here) even though I have only seen eight of their movies. I have the rest of their movies I but I just haven’t found the right time to watch them yet. So, naturally when I saw that they were remaking True Grit, which I haven’t seen, I was thrilled. Being a school teacher I am off for the week so I actually could go and see it at the theatre.
What I really like about the brothers is that it seems like they are able to reach into any genre and make a really good story about redemption.
I know, I know, I know… many people have said that Ladykillers wasn’t that good; but I loved it, ok, liked it.
As for this movie, it has two of the most memorable characters that I have seen in a long time. There is the little fourteen year old girl “Marty Ross” who absolutely steals the show. She is single minded, witty and, unwilling to be deterred from fulfilling her duty to avenge her father’s murder. She wrangles a local businessman to give her what she is due and then uses this money to rent a Marshall. This marshl is played by Jeff Bridges or “Rooster Cogburn” a drunken marshall with quick (and deadly) trigger. These two characters have wonderful dialogue that is full of witty rejoinders even if half of the time you can’t understand Rooster due to his strong country draw and idioms.
Matt Damon does a great job playing a know-it-all, fancy dancy Texas Ranger but, unfortunately for him, he is in the same movie with the previously mentioned two. He did a great job but his role is doomed to be one of those roles people say, “Oh, I forgot Matt Damon was in this movie!”
What was weird about this movie for me was even though the cinematography was top of the line, the acting was stellar and the writing was astounding the thing that I will take home most about this movie is its take on the Biblical stance (at least OT) that justice demands murder be avenged.
Check out what Numbers has to say:
Num 35:30 If anyone kills another, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses; but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of a single witness. 31 Moreover you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer who is subject to the death penalty; a murderer must be put to death. 32 Nor shall you accept ransom for one who has fled to a city of refuge, enabling the fugitive to return to live in the land before the death of the high priest. 33 You shall not pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.
It was the avenger of blood’s (the nearest male kin) job to ensure that that the life of the murdered was not allowed to leave this world without a price, that is, the price of the one who murdered him. No money, trade or anything else could repay for the life of a human; only the life of the murderer could be a ransom for the people of the land.
In OT time apparently this system was the best prohibition that was available for murder. That is, if you kill someone it is legal (an in some sense required) to avenge the death. (I know that the story of David, Absalom, Joab and the Takoan woman in 2Sam 14 says something different but that is a problem for another day.) This is adressed in the movie since the problem that Marty has with the justice system of the town her father was killed in is that, “ya’ll don’t know my father and your just going to let it go!”
She did not let it go, Rooster did not let it go (although he let his payment go) and justice was servered.