"True Grit" (2010) Movie Review
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My movie review of the latest version of "True Grit" from Joel and Ethan Coen starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon.
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
The 1969 film version of "True Grit" was considered one of the quintessential westerns and was revered for John Wayne's performance. The actor won his first and only Best Actor Oscar for the role of Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn.
So when the Coen brothers announced that they were planning on remaking the film based on the novel by Charles Portis, many fans shouted in disbelief. But have no fear, the latest version of "True Grit" remains true to the book's mythic Western adventure full of vengeance and valor.
The big difference between the John Wayne film and the latest incarnation is its point of view. Much like the book, the new film version has the 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) front and center.
Everything that happens in the film is filtered through the eyes of our tough as nails heroine. We even see her grow old.
The time is the 1870s and the setting is frontier America just after the Civil War. Mattie is the taleteller of the film who travels to Fort Smith, Arkansas determined to extract justice for the death of her father who was believed to have been shot in cold blood by the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) who is now hiding in Indian Territory.
Wanting to see Chaney punished, Mattie seeks out Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) because he is rumored to be the most ruthless U.S. Marshal in town, a man with grit. But Cogburn is really a trigger-happy, drunken fool who may have met his match with Mattie.
But there's another character looking for Chaney. The smooth, talkative Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who aims to catch the killer and bring him back to Texas for an ample reward. Soon the trio, each driven by their own moral codes, must work together to hunt the murderer.
From start to finish, "True Grit" is a delight. You would not want the trio to find Chaney for it signals the near end of the film. From the script to its award-worthy performance, "True Grit" is a perfect movie, definitely one of the best films of 2010.
Bridges paid homage to Wayne's performance and then put his own stamp of approval for his Cogburn portrayal. He's a loud, drunk lawman who does not think twice about kicking bratty kids or shooting helpless horses when necessary. Bridges will be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
But the real marvel for me is newcomer Steinfeld who successfully duked it out with her veteran co-stars. This role is the centerpiece of the film and the actress needed for the part must be equal parts tough, compassionate, and world-weary -- demanding adjectives for any teenage actor.
Like Jennifer Lawrence in the fantastic "Winter's Bone," Steinfeld's character's quest is the heart of the film, and we must believe the performance in order for us to brave the journey with her. And Steinfeld did not disappoint.
The script, written by the Coen brothers, stayed true to the book which allowed the film to expound on the plain-spoken humor of the novel. "True Grit" has many funny moments, peppered with bold storytelling and rough beauty.
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also a treasure to behold. He captures the jagged landscape of the Frontier while focusing on our three main characters. There will be many iconic shots to come out of this film.
My initial reaction upon watching "True Grit" was that it's not a typical Coen brothers film. This one has a linear narrative that takes us from beginning to the end. But look closely and you will understand why the Coens decided to remake the film and chose to stick with Portis' vision.
The new film version plays up the novel's Biblical tone, which the 1969 movie downplayed. This one also has vengeance at its core which eventually leads to redemption and retribution with Mattie paying a high price. The only similarity between the two film versions that was not in the book is the iconic eye patch that Cogburn wears.
RATING: "TRUE GRIT" 4 KISSES
Year of Production: 2010
Country: United States