Jewish Journal

Lessons from “True Grit”

by Misha Henckel

February 26, 2011 | 8:58 pm

Watching the movie, I kept thinking that the Academy has gotten it horribly wrong. “True Grit” is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld). But there is nothing “supporting” about Steinfeld’s role or her performance. She delivers a drop-dead brilliant portrayal of 14 year old Mattie Ross, the story’s leading character who masterminds the search and capture of her father’s murderer. A 13 year old Steinfeld commands every screen with her captivating presence and drives every twist and turn throughout the story. She is a natural talent. The real deal.  If nominated for Best Actress she would obliterate Natalie Portman’s hold on that particular Oscar. As superlative as Portman is in “Black Swan,” Steinfeld is simply far more authentic. She is just that good. A relative unknown before this film, Steinfeld does not only hold her own among a group of first-class male actors, she dominates. Jeff Bridges, on the other hand, comes across as a bit too self-assured, and self-indulgent, and Matt Damon can barely keep up.

The film is beautifully scripted. The cinematography is delightful and momentous. The editing and directing, impeccable. The Coen brothers have created a first class western. The rhythm and timing of the movie are definitely a throw back and leave the viewer nostalgic for a different era. It is an interesting combination of the beautiful and the gory. All wrapped around the character of a young girl who is so entirely purposeful that she lets nothing at all get in her way. Kudos to the Coens for making a film based entirely on a 14 year old girl.

This is precisely the kind of movie to watch when you need inspiration and motivation to deal with some big obstacle or challenge. Mattie’s fearlessness will seep into your bones and strengthen your resolve.

What can we learn from “True Grit?”

1. What it means to have purpose, and how powerful that can be. Mattie’s focus and lack of fear is far greater than that of the adult men who are also seeking the killer.

2. Age is irrelevant. Who we are is far more significant. Mattie out-negotiates and out-wits everyone who comes up against her, despite her tender years.

3. Films about strong women can be extremely successful.

This movie is unusually delightful… I hope you get to see it, if you haven’t already.


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Misha Henckel is a Los Angeles–based branding specialist and the CEO/Founder of True Face Branding. After more than a decade as a leading life coach, Misha now works with...

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