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Review: True Grit

True Grit
12.16.2010
9 10

PLOT: After her father is murdered, young Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires an aging U.S Marshall, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help her bring the killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to justice.

REVIEW: Believe the hype. TRUE GRIT is an absolutely killer Western, and the Coen’s leanest, meanest work since NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Less a remake of the old 1969 John Wayne flick (which won him his only Oscar), and more a new adaptation of the original novel by Charles Portis, TRUE GRIT is the Coen Bros first true, period western and the genre fits them like a glove. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as many of their earlier films had a Western flavor, with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN essentially being a modern oater.


One of the great things about TRUE GRIT is that the Coens seem to be having a ball playing with cowboys. This is the most infectiously fun Coen Bros., film since O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU, although when the violence hits, it hits hard. Bridges in particular seems to be having a ball playing Cogburn. This isn’t Bridges’ first western, with him having appeared in the likes of BAD COMPANY, WILD BILL, and others. He truly seems at home as the cantankerous, drunken Cogburn. While Wayne played him more as lovably crotchety, Bridges gives him more of an edge.

I got a kick out of watching TRUE GRIT only a day after seeing TRON: LEGACY as Bridges is so wildly different here, you’d have trouble believing you were watching the same person if you didn’t know better. In his hands, Cogburn is a mean, vicious old bastard, but also one that’s trustworthy, and perhaps inherently noble. His chemistry with fourteen year-old Hallie Steinfeld as Mattie gives the film its heart. Steinfeld, who hasn’t done much before this, is revelatory as Ross. In the original 1969 film, she was played by Kim Darby, who- to put it kindly, wasn’t all that great in the role.

Steinfeld is incredible, giving the character wisdom far beyond her years but also having her occasionally fall prey to her own youthful vulnerability such as her girlish love for her pet pony Blackie. I’d love to see Steinfeld pull in an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress (although one could argue it’s more of a lead).


Making the third part of our star trio is Matt Damon as the braggadocios Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. He carries himself as sort of an aristocrat of the old West, with his prominent spurs, and constant chatter garnering him much scorn from Cogburn. Damon plays the role for laughs, and is a massive improvement over ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ Glen Campbell, who played the role in the original film.

As for Brolin, the role of Tom Chaney is actually smaller than you might expect, with him not making an appearance until about eighty minutes in. Rather than play Chaney as a brute, Brolin actually plays him as a bit of a buffoon, with him being little more his outlaw boss ‘Lucky’ Ned Pepper’s errand boy. It’s a great role for Brolin, and to say it’s more successful than his other 2010 western (JONAH HEX) is a massive understatement.


As the vicious, but somewhat noble outlaw ‘Lucky Ned’ Pepper, we get another Pepper, Barry. It’s good to see Barry Pepper carve out a niche for himself as a character actor after being unfairly tainted by BATTLEFIELD: EARTH, and he does a fine job filling in for Robert Duvall, who originally played the role. He gives Pepper an air of humanity, although scraggly beard, teeth, and saliva spewing speech make him look a bit like a rabid dog.

It’s worth mentioning that the only part of the film that seems directly lifted from the original TRUE GRIT is the final showdown between Cogburn and Pepper, with the same dialogue, and a few similar shots being used. Other than that, the two films don’t have too much in common, other than the bare essentials of the story. One of the most unique aspects of TRUE GRIT is the old-timey Western dialogue as spewed by a bunch of Coen Bros., regulars in various colorful supporting parts. Many have singled out Dakin Matthews as Col. Stonehill, who has two sequences opposite Steinfeld where they haggle about the price of horseflesh that are gems. I also loved Ed Corbin in a tiny, hilarious scene, as the aptly named ‘Bear Man’, with a fascination for dentistry and frontier medicine.

As is usual for a Coen Bros film, TRUE GRIT is also a striking-looking film, with it being shot in a somewhat muted pallet in the dead of winter by genius cinematographer Roger Deakins, while Carter Burwell supplies the moody, subtle score.

Suffice to say, I really loved TRUE GRIT, and it makes the strongest case for a full scale Western comeback I’ve seen since TOMBSTONE (note: that's not to say that was the last good Western. THE PROPOSITION, ASSASINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, and DEADWOOD on HBO are all great. It's just that TRUE GRIT makes a good case for it commercially.). Hopefully this won’t be the last time the Coens’ make a western saga, period or otherwise. Like always, I’m eager to see what they come up with next, as they remain two of the most consistent filmmakers in Hollywood.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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6:35PM on 01/23/2011

READ THE BOOK

Here is a clear cut case of "read the book before seeing the movie". The stilted language is used in the book because Mattie Ross is a product of the times and is writing about herself and her experiences with Rooster.
The original movie is far better than this 'modernized' version and Mr. Bridges should be shot by a Colt Dragoon for murdering the dialog. ( Note to Mr. Bridges - it is not always about you and your latest made up accent)
The original movie is fairly true to the book and Duke
Here is a clear cut case of "read the book before seeing the movie". The stilted language is used in the book because Mattie Ross is a product of the times and is writing about herself and her experiences with Rooster.
The original movie is far better than this 'modernized' version and Mr. Bridges should be shot by a Colt Dragoon for murdering the dialog. ( Note to Mr. Bridges - it is not always about you and your latest made up accent)
The original movie is fairly true to the book and Duke Wayne remains the one and only Marshall Rooster Cogburn. If you disagree well then "FILL YOUR HANDS YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
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-4
4:16PM on 12/19/2010

J. Burton

I am from the South, still live in the South, and both accents sound over-the-top to me. Sure there are people who talk like that (then and now), but that doesn't necessarily mean its the best choice for the film or the characters. I haven't seen the film yet, but already can tell it will grate on my ears and my nerves. But then, I always prefer subtlety to being blunt. The Coens tend to go for blunt. Bridges in particular sounds like he's doing a bad John Wayne impression.
I am from the South, still live in the South, and both accents sound over-the-top to me. Sure there are people who talk like that (then and now), but that doesn't necessarily mean its the best choice for the film or the characters. I haven't seen the film yet, but already can tell it will grate on my ears and my nerves. But then, I always prefer subtlety to being blunt. The Coens tend to go for blunt. Bridges in particular sounds like he's doing a bad John Wayne impression.
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+2
12:40PM on 12/17/2010
I am already anticipating this to be in my top ten of 2010 and I don't think I will be wrong. I also forsee this as being one of the best reviewed films of 2010, which I also suspect wouldn't be without merit. It must nice to be a Coen Brother.
I am already anticipating this to be in my top ten of 2010 and I don't think I will be wrong. I also forsee this as being one of the best reviewed films of 2010, which I also suspect wouldn't be without merit. It must nice to be a Coen Brother.
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3:13AM on 12/17/2010

rodie

"...why are Bridges and Brolin's accents so terrible?!? They sound so cartoony."
Yeah, you're right nobody in the south talks like that. What were they thinking? (THICK SARCASM)
"...why are Bridges and Brolin's accents so terrible?!? They sound so cartoony."
Yeah, you're right nobody in the south talks like that. What were they thinking? (THICK SARCASM)
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1:04AM on 12/17/2010

Hmmm

I'm a fan of Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper...so I may check this out.
I'm a fan of Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper...so I may check this out.
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9:10PM on 12/16/2010

Bahhh

I'm trying to keep an open mind but I really enjoyed the original so much that it's going to be difficult. Re-making a classic John Wayne film is just wrong, I don't care who does it or how talented the cast. (Yes, it IS a re-make, don't give me that "adapting the book" crap.)
I'm trying to keep an open mind but I really enjoyed the original so much that it's going to be difficult. Re-making a classic John Wayne film is just wrong, I don't care who does it or how talented the cast. (Yes, it IS a re-make, don't give me that "adapting the book" crap.)
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12:37PM on 12/17/2010
I don't know, from what I understand the original isn't the best film in the world and this one greatly improves on it. Just because the original had The Duke doesn't mean that it can't be improved upon. And if anyone can do it, it's The Coen's.
I don't know, from what I understand the original isn't the best film in the world and this one greatly improves on it. Just because the original had The Duke doesn't mean that it can't be improved upon. And if anyone can do it, it's The Coen's.
7:38PM on 12/22/2010
WEell...in the first place, Henry hathaway and John Wayne embellished Charles Portis novel, so it wasn't a true adaptation. They turned it into the Rooster show where in the book it's the Mattie Ross show, so even though both movies share the same title, this film is actually 80% verbatim from the book unlike the 69 version.
WEell...in the first place, Henry hathaway and John Wayne embellished Charles Portis novel, so it wasn't a true adaptation. They turned it into the Rooster show where in the book it's the Mattie Ross show, so even though both movies share the same title, this film is actually 80% verbatim from the book unlike the 69 version.
6:05PM on 12/16/2010

Only PG-13?

I cannot wait for this! I have to say though, I'm really surprised it's rated PG-13. I think the only other PG-13 films they've made are Raising Arizona and Intolerable Cruelty. I'm sure it's still great, it's just that a western called True Grit directed by the Coens seems like an R-rated movie for sure. I hope it doesn't feel toned down.
I cannot wait for this! I have to say though, I'm really surprised it's rated PG-13. I think the only other PG-13 films they've made are Raising Arizona and Intolerable Cruelty. I'm sure it's still great, it's just that a western called True Grit directed by the Coens seems like an R-rated movie for sure. I hope it doesn't feel toned down.
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-19
4:31PM on 12/16/2010

-18

Ha ha. My comment is not too popular. So everyone here likes those over the top accents, right? You all have tougher ears than I!
Ha ha. My comment is not too popular. So everyone here likes those over the top accents, right? You all have tougher ears than I!
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2:17PM on 12/16/2010

Westerns are back

With this and red dead redemption, yea it was that good, westerns are back and im loving it. Gonna go play some red dead nightmare right now!
With this and red dead redemption, yea it was that good, westerns are back and im loving it. Gonna go play some red dead nightmare right now!
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1:54PM on 12/16/2010
This film is great! I saw a screening the other day and loved it. But Cogburn kicked the indian kids because they poking at a horse with sharpened sticks
This film is great! I saw a screening the other day and loved it. But Cogburn kicked the indian kids because they poking at a horse with sharpened sticks
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1:44PM on 12/16/2010
Quote;It makes the strongest case for a full scale Western comeback Iíve seen since TOMBSTONE.
I agree that Tombstone was a good western, but to say that it was the last good western to come out is just plain crazy. Have you seen the Proposition, Deadwood (series), Seraphim Falls, Dead Man, Ravenous and The Good The Bad and The Weird (Korean).
Quote;It makes the strongest case for a full scale Western comeback Iíve seen since TOMBSTONE.
I agree that Tombstone was a good western, but to say that it was the last good western to come out is just plain crazy. Have you seen the Proposition, Deadwood (series), Seraphim Falls, Dead Man, Ravenous and The Good The Bad and The Weird (Korean).
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3:12PM on 12/16/2010
3:10 to Yuma was pretty solid, too.
3:10 to Yuma was pretty solid, too.
3:58PM on 12/16/2010
I also liked Appaloosa with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen
I also liked Appaloosa with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen
4:04PM on 12/16/2010
Seraphim Falls and Yuma had some nice scenes but weren't very good. They didn't quite feel like westerns either. Good Bad & Weird was fun but pretty convoluted. Ravenous was a great film though.
Seraphim Falls and Yuma had some nice scenes but weren't very good. They didn't quite feel like westerns either. Good Bad & Weird was fun but pretty convoluted. Ravenous was a great film though.
12:30PM on 12/16/2010
By far my most anticipated movie since I first saw the trailer, Jeff Bridges + Coen Bros. in a Western = My $.
By far my most anticipated movie since I first saw the trailer, Jeff Bridges + Coen Bros. in a Western = My $.
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12:26PM on 12/16/2010

Why not 10/10?

pumped for this movie to come out!
pumped for this movie to come out!
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+5
12:22PM on 12/16/2010
Omgomgomgomg. Excited!
Omgomgomgomg. Excited!
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-44
12:12PM on 12/16/2010

Yes

Yes, but why are Bridges and Brolin's accents so terrible?!? They sound so cartoony. Everytime I hear "Can't do nothin' for ya son!" in the trailer and laugh.
Yes, but why are Bridges and Brolin's accents so terrible?!? They sound so cartoony. Everytime I hear "Can't do nothin' for ya son!" in the trailer and laugh.
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12:28PM on 12/16/2010
Because you are an idiot.
Because you are an idiot.
2:54PM on 12/16/2010
Because of what the Ramboner said.
Because of what the Ramboner said.
11:46AM on 12/16/2010
Hell. Yes.
Hell. Yes.
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