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Movie Review: True Grit (December, 2010)

Directors: Ethan Coen, surgeon Joel Coen
Screenplay: Ethan Coen, price Joel Coen
Release Date: December 22, pharmacy 2010
Actors: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
Remake of the John Wayne 1969 western of the same name and the novel by Charles Portis

(Am continuing to try and catch up to all these movies I’ve seen!)

True Grit is the remake of the 1979 original of the same name of the John Wayne classic western, this time directed by the Coen brothers. Most of the time, the Coen brothers does little to please me as I don’t enjoy the kind of humor they tend to throw on screen (No Country for Old Men comes to mind, as I really hated that film). I had my reservations going into this film, with the combination of not really liking the Coen brothers and really detesting most westerns.

What I found was pleasantly surprising, and I think it’s due to the young female lead of Hailee Steinfeld. The story begins with the death of Mattie Ross’ (Hailee Steinfeld) father by the hired hand of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Wanting justice for her father’s death, she hires U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) due to his rumored “true grit”. At the same time, Sheriff LaBeouf (Matt Damon) is also hunting down Tom Chaney for other crimes he has committed and decides to make a deal with Rooster Cogburn to capture Tom Chaney together. To both of their displeasures, Mattie insists on joining them in search of Chaney to make sure Rooster does good on her payment to him.

Having never seen the original True Grit, I’m not sure how this one compares, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I had expected. The Coen brothers tend to contain a lot of violence in their films as well as profanity, but because True Grit is a story about a teenager, they wanted True Grit to be a film that teenagers could watch. I think because of this, True Grit worked a bit better for me, in which I could focus just on the story and not the absurdity that I find most of their films to wallow in.

Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and especially Hailee Steinfeld were terrific in their roles. Steinfeld spoke every word with conviction and determination that was so proper and refined it was humorous in contrast with the drunk and rough edged Jeff Bridges’ Rooster. Damon’s LaBoeuf was the most ridiculous character of the three (even his name, which means “The Beef” in french) which I find much hilarity.

Josh Brolin’s appearance in the film is very short and rather disappointing in the sense that one might expect Tom Chaney to be completely threatening given that Chaney has murdered several big wigs, seems to be escaping being caught and ends up to be a downright meek, mumbling weakling who actually has a boss. Completely unexpected. I suppose that is the comedy that the Coen brothers wanted us to experience, but it seemed all rather anti climatic after a slow buildup of trying to find Chaney.

Chaney aside, for someone like me who pretty much hates Westerns and dislikes most films made by the Coen brothers, it was entertaining and might I even say, enjoyable. I would think people who don’t mind Westerns at all would really enjoy True Grit. Apparently it’s even better than the original, which I think is always a feat when that is accomplished.

True Grit, surprisingly, is one of the few films by the Coen brothers that I would not have minded had it been nominated, and would even prefer the win over the incredibly strong The Social Network (which I think is completely overrated, as much as I appreciate David Fincher’s body of work). I would have enjoyed a nomination for Jeff Bridges and even Matt Damon, but the person that truly shines is Hailee Steinfeld for a Supporting Actress nomination.

Not mandatory to see in the theatre, but if you love Westerns, definitely recommended!
3.5 Beefs / 5 Beefs

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