Friday, January 21, 2011
Kim Darby's Matty Ross has a worthy successor in thirteen-year-old Hailee Seinfeld. There is something fractious, irritating yet deeply admirable about Matty, in particular the Presbyterian-Protestant ethic so strongly imbued in a 14-year-old girl. "Is your every utterance to be indecipherable, Marshal? Your vocalisations are less words than outhouse rumbles after overconsumption of whiskey and chicken wings. Does your throat retain an unfortunate tumbleweed?"
The role that the soundtrack plays in rhythmic distancing of perspective lends the film a powerfully memorable breadth and the alternation of traditional orchestral “western” music with intimate folk gives it a spare, accurate feel. We become particularly aware of this in the final scenes, when the epilogue is set to a honky-tonk solo piano, a striking contrast from the mythic sweep of the stars as Cogburn, exhausted, saves her life and brings Mattie “home”. What follows the epilogue is Iris DeMent’s haunting version of Elisha Hoffman's 1887 classic from Deuteronomy 33:27 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms which plays over the credits and appears at intervals throughout the movie. I was spellbound and close to tears. Unmissable.