True Grit, the Coen Brothers' latest film, up for ten Oscars, took my breath away. It inspired me as a woman, as a writer, and as an American swept up in a daunting fight to save Maine's inland mountains from the scam of industrial wind development.
On so many levels, this is a story we all need to hear, a movie we need to see, hear and feel. It's a clarion call about who we are, and who we should be and could be.
When plucky 14 year old Maddie Ross sets out to avenge her father's death, she's seeking justice, for the authorities had just let the murderer get away. She's also seeking vengeance. That's not a concept that we in modern-day America are familiar with, and as a modern woman, I admit it's a bit too much for me as well. Justice is about as far as I'm willing to go. But then again, vengeance in those days was probably the only means to get justice when the bad guy can get away by riding off into Indian territory.
From the opening scenes of the movie, over and over again the characters prove they have that true grit. None more than Maddie herself, but pretty much every character. Even her beloved spirited horse, Blackie gives his all for the cause. Maddie searches for lawmen with 'true grit' who will help her find her father's murderer. But in the end, it's she who has more than any of them, and she inspires them on.
She's a refreshing character that all American girls (and women) should experience. She's a dress-wearing, brilliant young woman with a steely spine, clear-eyed judgement, and a willingness to step outside the norms for women and girls. She also has more than an adult's dollop of courage and wisdom. Of course I teared up at the end of the film. But I even teared up at the beginning, as her strong character strode across the screen. She's everything I would want to be in my own life - brilliant, plucky, persistent, wise, and also forgiving. And, she gets the job done.
True Grit - that is what has always been at the core of our spirit, and not just America's spirit, but at the core of all humanity. Our willingness to fight for what we believe is right, despite the odds.