Hubby and I partook in the blessed date night last night. We try to do it once a month, usually dinner with no other pressing obligations. Last night I was able to finagle a movie out of him. He's always a sucker for a good Western.
So we saw the critically acclaimed True Grit, which is up for 11 Oscars for this Sunday. First off, it's a remake and adapted from the actual novel. This one was a Coen brother film, which I hadn't realized going into it, but was a nice surprise. The Coen brothers are renowned for their unique style, and often odd and abrupt endings. True Grit was no different in that aspect.
I've never read the story or seen the other versions, so I didn't know the story at all. The acting was outstanding. With big names like Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon, it's expected. But young Hailee Steinfeld really stole the show. At fourteen she was phenomonal--and there were some tough lines. Wow, this girl has a bright future ahead of her.
You probably already know the premise, so I'll just say in most ways, it's a typical Western film with horse riding, guns, and killing. But the nice touch of having a young girl on the trail was refreshing. What made this film especially exceptional was the dialogue. The actors nailed their characters and the dialogue was believable and clever.
So what did I learn from it? It was very basic, but the simplicity of it is what made it work so well:
The Inciting Incident --- Mattie's father is killed by an outlaw
The Goal --- Mattie wants to capture and punish her father's killer
The Surface Problem --- Finding someone who will help Mattie track the killer down, and what to do with the killer once he's found.
The Story Worthy Problem --- A fatherless, but spitfire little girl, and a has-been old drunk U.S. Marshall without a family, having to work together to bring about justice.
The conflicts are bountiful throughout the story. Unlikely companions thrown together, facing the cold, treacherous midwest on horseback, encountering outlaws and oddballs along the way. The story is nothing extraordinary, but the intriguing characters come alive through their dialogue, which breathes the kind of life into the story that every storyteller dreams of.
Bottom line: As long as you have a story goal and plenty of conflict, you can make just about anything work, so long as your characters are alive with verve.
So who's in for the Oscars tomorrow night?? I'll be having my own little Oscar party, and I'll be on Twitter, so join me if you like, using a hashtag of #WatchOscars. Will be a lot of fun!
BTW for those who commented on my Crusade Challenge post yesterday, thank you! All of it was true, except the part about what PK stands for. My first name is not Pamela. And maybe, someday, I'll tell you what it stands for. Or you can guess if you like. But my middle name really is Kay. :)
So have you seen True Grit? Or any of the other Oscar nominated films? I've been behind on my film watching. But tell me your faves! Or any that really blew chunks? I wanna know that too!!