Saturday, January 8, 2011

True Grit (2010)

Director(s): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. Cast: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper. 110 min. Rated PG-13. Western.

Haven’t seen the original 1969 version, and I’m glad I didn’t, because I wouldn’t have wanted Jeff Bridges dominating performance as the one-eyed drunk Marshall/mercenary to be tarnished by John Wayne’s Oscar-winning act. As always, I adore the Coens’ serious drama work rather than their comedies, and this has every element of a perfect Western: themes of loyalty and gritty betrayal, in the backdrop of stunning panoramas, sprinkled with the Coens’ own sudden bursts of explosive violence. Steinfeld’s breakout performance astonishingly keeps up with both Bridges and Damon. If you don’t see this in a theater, you’ll miss the beauty.

(PS: Curiously, my favorite scene: the strong-willed, thick-headed teenage Mattie, going horseback across the river, almost drowning. How inspiring. God bless the Westerns.)

Mo says:


  1. I love good western and I love the original, you really must see it. Coen movies are nearly always brilliant so I will overcome my hatred for remakes of classics and watch this one. Thanks for the positive review.

  2. Thanks to you! I wasn't planning on seeing the original, but if you say so, I'll start searching for it (there's a "Very Long Wait" for it on Netflix).

    Apparently the reason the Coens Brothers' version has become so successful, is that they based their movie on the Charles Portis novel, and not as a remake of the older movie.

  3. You must see the original, they are both obviousley based on the book the only difference being the end. Most of the dialogue is similar from what I can remember. The original spawned an excelent sequel. But the remake leaves no room for one. I suppose a prequel would be a possibility but I cant see it. I generally hate prequels.

  4. What was the name of the original's sequel? You got me intrigued.

  5. I haven’t seen original too but I guess due to such strong recommendation by this cinephile I should do !I like when origin of movie’s title inserted through dialogues and we should find out ! the same in “ No country for old men “ and now in True Grit.What a weird role accepted Josh Brolin in this movie . I never expected he might be the villain of story .! kind of unattractive villain ?! I think he did just for proving his loyalty to Coen Brothers. I sincerely appreciate those who would survive dead but noticeable Genre of Western … never gets old for its fan .. and Jeff Bridge played the role so that he’s living all the time as a desert man!…fantastic job!

  6. From Wikipedia: A film sequel, Rooster Cogburn, was made in 1975, with Wayne reprising his role and Katharine Hepburn as an elderly spinster, Eula Goodnight, who teams up with him. The plot has been described as a rehash of the original True Grit with elements of the Bogart-Hepburn film The African Queen. A further made-for-television sequel entitled True Grit: A Further Adventure, appeared in 1978, starring Warren Oates and Lisa Pelikan, and featured the further adventures of Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross.

    I havent seen True Grit: A further adventure but I'm dying too!

  7. The quality of the cast in the original is incredible...Duval! Hopper! I did think Glen Campbel was a bit lame though.

    * John Wayne as Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn
    * Kim Darby as Mattie Ross
    * Glen Campbell as La Boeuf
    * Jeremy Slate as Emmett Quincy
    * Robert Duvall as Lucky Ned Pepper
    * Dennis Hopper as Moon
    * Strother Martin as Col. G. Stonehill
    * Jeff Corey as Tom Chaney
    * Donald Woods as Barlow
    * James Westerfield as Judge Parker

  8. Dear Maryam,

    As you said, Westerns these days are made few and far in between. This is probably because when the occasion arises, the story is good enough to motivate good filmmakers to make them. The result: when they are made, they're quite decent.

    I wish they hadn't advertised beforehand that Josh Brolin was in the movie. His appearance at the end would have been a good surprise.

    But Barry Pepper (from "Saving Private Ryan") was a much more disgusting villain!

  9. Dear Death-Face,

    Thanks for the info. I've read from critics about the original that Glen Campbell didn't do much a job there, since he was originally a singer or something, not an actor.

    But Duvall and Hopper too?!!! That must be one hullava fun ride!

  10. Mo,
    Well, either the whole world has lost its mind, or I have. Because I haven't disliked a movie this much since the last Star Wars flick. When she fell down into that pit with the snakes, I was seriously wondering whether I was to have been watching a comedy the whole time and had just missed it. But alas it seems that they were shooting (if you will) for, as you called it, serious drama (with that dialogue?). I'm going to watch the original just to get the taste out of my mouth. But for what it's worth, that was a great scene crossing the river. What a tease.


  11. Wow ... either you've changed JZ, or I've lost touched of your movie tastes. Honestly, when I was watching the movie, I was thinking: "This is one movie JZ would love."

    Sorry! I hope my recommendation didn't ruin your rare chance of watching a more adult movie in the theater.


  12. ...and dont worry all, the river crossing scene is in the original :D

  13. I was surprised myself, and I like a good western. But it seemed that the dialogue was delivered so artificially (unlike, say, Tombstone where they used old lingo but managed to sound authentic, even though Val Kilmer was tad over the top). I know it came from the novel, but still. When she fell in to the pit with the snakes I had to seriously consider the possibility that I had been watching a comedy the whole time and just missed it. But, alas, they were shooting (if you will) for, as you said, serious drama. And am I the only one who thought it a bit odd that Matt Damon's character could just blow off being shot, biting his tongue off (nearly) and being bashed over the head with a rock? It's one thing to be "fearless" but another show no fear or worry or concern for anything at all. It's as if they all knew it was only a movie. Anyway, I agree, the river scene was awesome. What a tease.

  14. Actually, I'm not sure why everyone's raving about Matt Damon's performance. But then again, I'm not a huge Damon fan anyway. I don't remember ever believing in a role he played. Not even in "The Departed".

  15. Isn't "exciting" a necessary element for a western movie? I think the movie didn't have it at all, not even when she found the killer and feced him. Also the end of story didn't make me satisfied. About the river scene I can not agree with you more.

  16. Oh well, I guess this will be another of those movies that will have a strong number of both believers and opposers. I won't deny that the Coens' and Bidges' success in recent years catapulted this movie into one of Oscar's 10 Best Pictures this year, but in itself, I think it's a movie worthy of note.