In un Natale poverissimo di buon cinema, di qua e al di là dell’oceano, il nuovo film dei fratelli Coen sembra arrivare al momento giusto per ridare fiato ad un panorama piuttosto asfittico.
Ritornando al romanzo di Charles Portis, adattato già nel 1969 per un vecchio ed imbolsito John Wayne, i due registi del Minnesota hanno creato un altro piccolo gioiello, di stampo classico, questa volta, senza cinismo e humor nero.
Secondo Manohla Dargis sul New York Times ricorda il mediocre adattamento originale, uscito nello stesso mese del capolavoro di Sam Peckinpah:
The first “True Grit” opened in New York in early July 1969, a week after “The Wild Bunch,” the Sam Peckinpah western that’s widely seen as a metaphor about interventionist follies like Vietnam and that remains an enduring evisceration of the genre. The Coens, who like to play with genre, often with giggles and winks, haven’t mounted an assault on the western. But in Mattie they have created a character whose single-minded pursuit of vengeance has unmistakable resonance…
Avenging her father and keeping close track of her family’s expenses are what preoccupy Mattie, a richly conceived and written eccentric, as memorable on the page as she is now on screen. Softened for the first film, she has been toughed up again by the Coens so that she resembles the seemingly humorless if often unintentionally humorous Scripture-quoting martinet of Mr. Portis’s imagination. At times she brings to mind D. H. Lawrence’s famed formulation that “the essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.” At other times, as when she wears her dead father’s oversize coat and hat, she looks like a foolish child left to perilous play.
E chiude con un paragone impegnativo:
In some ways, much like Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter,” which the Coens quote both musically and visually, “True Grit” is a parable about good and evil. Only here, the lines between the two are so blurred as to be indistinguishable, making this a true picture of how the West was won, or — depending on your view — lost.
Roger Ebert invece insiste sulla classicità ritrovata dai due fratelli:
I’m describing the story and the film as if it were simply, if admirably, a good Western. That’s a surprise to me, because this is a film by the Coen Brothers, and this is the first straight genre exercise in their career. It’s a loving one. Their craftsmanship is a wonder. Their casting is always inspired and exact. The cinematography by Roger Deakins reminds us of the glory that was, and can still be, the Western.
But this isn’t a Coen Brothers film in the sense that we usually use those words. It’s not eccentric, quirky, wry or flaky. It’s as if these two men, who have devised some of the most original films of our time, reached a point where they decided to coast on the sheer pleasure of good old straightforward artistry… So let me praise it for what it is, a splendid Western. The Coens having demonstrated their mastery of many notes, including many not heard before, now show they can play in tune.
Mentre Kenneth Turan del Los Angeles Times ritiene che i Coen siano rimasti fedeli allo spirito del romanzo di Portis e dei suoi personaggi eccentrici:
The Coens, not known for softening anything, have restored the original’s bleak, elegiac conclusion and as writer-directors have come up with a version that shares events with the first film but is much closer in tone to the book — think of the original crossed with Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.” Clearly recognizing a kindred spirit in Portis, sharing his love for eccentric characters and odd language, they worked hard, and successfully, at serving the buoyant novel as well as being true to their own black comic brio…