given who I am, and what I write, it may not surprise you that what I took from the Coen brothers’ remake of the Western True Grit was that it’s a love story between a fourteen-year-old girl and a fifty-something-year-old man.
I guess Mr Le Boeuf (played by Matt Damon) had some part of the emotional configuration, but for me Cogburn was, without a doubt, the romantic hero.
Oh dear. I wonder if I sound a little, er, crazy.
I was forming a theory that artists are given license, in portraying less pc times, to be less pc. See the line where Maddy’s naming her horse Little Blackie and the little black boy helping her out says “Good name!” See any number of sexist overtures and gratuitous drinking in Mad Men.
In a way, as a viewer, it’s kind of relaxing. There’s some allowance, because it’s not you thinking or enjoying those things, it’s just a true expression of the times.
Then I thought of Leon, the film about a French assassin who is saddled with and finally falls in love with a young girl. It is (or at least, was) a contemporary film.
I found then, and True Grit has confirmed me in this opinion, that it’s a deeply moving, deeply interesting romance to explore when all the elements are put together right. In both cases – though more so in True Grit, I would say – there is no possibility of romantic expression. He is far too old, she is far too young.
But all the things that belong to love, they have.
It’s a construction much more often found where sexual deviancy is also found. Maybe people who are already thinking outside the square are open to exploring what transverses a fine and dangerous line.
It just proves to me that those lines are worth travelling, and exploring, even if we terrify ourselves a little in the process.