True Grit (2010) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
778 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
One of the most crowd-pleasing films I think the Coens have ever made, accessible, simple, mythic and finally beautiful
Loving_Silence15 December 2010
The Coen brothers are known for being one of the best filmmakers of our time. They both compliment each other perfectly. When I heard they were remaking the 1969, John Wayne classic True Grit, I was extremely excited and had incredibly high expectations of the film. Being a major fan of Western movies, I was really interested how it would turn out. I wanted the movie to be more faithful to it's original source material, Charles Portis novel, than the 1969 film had been. I was also hopeful that Jeff Bridges would fill the huge shoes of the classic, legendary John Wayne. I was hoping that they would blend the humor of the original 1969 film with some of the suspense or thrills from earlier Coen brothers films like No Country For Old Men or Fargo. But not become way too violent that it causes to stay completely unrecognizable to Charles Portis classic novel.

After seeing the Coen brothers new film, I have to say. My extremely high expectations were surpassed. The movie actually surprised all the hype I had, what an incredible film. The atmosphere, clothing, and the buildings reminded me of the old classic Hollywood westerns they used to make. I had a feeling of nostalgia watching the movie through the end. I felt transported to another time period of the old western. Hailee Steinfeld was amazing in the movie, I truly believe that this is her breakout performance. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin were as usual amazing. But the true star of the film has to be Jeff Bridges, in all respects ( I don't mean to offend John Wayne or anything), I think Jeff Bridges did a better job than John Wayne in portraying Rooster Cogburn. His performance showed much more experience, strength and power, the performance was pretty much unforgettable. Jeff Bridges handily reinvents the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers' back-to-the-book-remake. I congratulate the Coen for bringing back the western genre, that Hollywood has ignored so much the last decade or so. I can't stress enough how much I recommend this movie to people.
504 out of 660 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good ol' fashioned storytelling
Monotreme0223 December 2010
As is to be expected, the film has all the classic Coen flourishes, first and foremost its use of language. The Coens have always been impeccably tuned in to language and accents, from the most creative use of swear words in The Big Lebowski and Burn After Reading to the colorful, stylized prose of The Hudsucker Proxy and The Man Who Wasn't There to the very distinct accents in Raising Arizona, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and No Country for Old Men. In classic Coen fashion, the use of language is very much emphasized in True Grit. The characters have a very distinct use of words, lifted right out of the novel and, as it feels at least, right out of the time period the film takes place in. Unlike something like Deadwood which features a very modernized and stylized version of 18th century speak, the dialogue in True Grit sounds completely authentic and, along with the impeccable and accurate-feeling costume and set design, really adds to the realism of the world True Grit creates. Accents are also very important – the harsh Southern drawl that the Coens have always been attracted to is very prominent and plays a very large role in the film.

As has become expected of the brothers, especially in recent years, the film looks incredibly beautiful, mainly thanks to regular DP Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography. All of his trademarks are in place: harsh but very naturalistic lighting, washed-out colors, especially in the outdoor scenes, smooth camera movements, and just a generally beautiful palette he uses to paint the world of the film with. Also very prominent in the film is the beautiful score by Carter Burwell. It hearkens back to his more melodic work on the Coen brothers' earlier films, especially Miller's Crossing. Using themes from classic hymns from the time period of the film, the soundtrack, along with the language of the dialogue, helps add a very strong feeling of authenticity to the film. It is a beautiful piece of music: dramatic but not heavy- handed, whimsical but with a hint of darkness to it. These two long-time Coen collaborators, as well as the costume and set designers, with whom the Coens have also worked with many times before, all deliver top-notch work and show once again just how strong the power of long-term collaboration can be.

Other returning collaborators are a number of the cast members. The Coens seem to have grown distant from most of their long-time regular cast members (Jon Polito, John Turturro, John Goodman, Steven Buscemi, and others), but Coen regulars still make appearances in some of their recent work. In this case, it is "The Dude" Lebowski himself, Jeff Bridges, who makes his triumphant return in a Coen brothers film, filling the very large shoes of John Wayne, who gave an iconic performance as Rooster Cogburn in the first adaptation of True Grit, from 1969. Bridges brings his own unique style and sensibilities to the role, combining his drunken goofiness with the demeanor of a serious and very skilled hunter and lawman. It is a wonderful performance playing to all of Bridges' best abilities as an actor, and it is just a joy to watch. Also playing to his best qualities is Matt Damon, who delivers one of the loosest and most fun performances of his career as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (or "La Beef", as he is referred to, by himself as well, in the film). Damon is clearly having fun with the role, although like Bridges, he, too, manages to find a very excellent balance between the humor and the seriousness and skill his character has. But the standout performance has to be newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who beat out 15,000 other girls for the part. Open casting calls often provide disappointing results, as nonprofessional actors tend to be just that – not professional. 14-year-old Steinfeld proves she is a talent to watch, though – she totally commands the screen with her strong-willed, stubborn character, and manages to hold her own against Bridges, Damon and Josh Brolin, who makes a brief but memorable appearance later in the film. It is a fantastic, powerful performance that is an absolute joy to watch. I foresee great things from Steinfeld in the future.

Many people will be turned off by the straightforwardness of the storytelling in True Grit. I have already heard complaints that the film lacks poignancy. But that isn't what it lacks. What it lacks is irony. It's actually quite amazing to see a film so completely and utterly devoid of irony such as this one – it seems like most films these days, including the Coen brothers' recent output, all carry this air of cynicism about them. True Grit hearkens back to a more classic form of plot and character-driven storytelling, and in that sense, it succeeds immensely. Ultimately, True Grit is a piece of pure entertainment – and it is quite an entertaining film: thrilling, engaging, and very, very funny. I have read many opinions claiming that this "doesn't feel like a Coen brothers film," but its storytelling style and techniques actually remind me most of another classic Coen film, Miller's Crossing. That film was also completely stripped of irony and instead focused on telling a good old-fashioned yarn, nothing more, nothing less. So while True Grit is not one of the very best films in the Coen's oeuvre, it is still just a darn good film overall.
254 out of 346 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
10/10 from a guy that does not like western movies
gobe-25 October 2011
To be honest I was never a big fan of western movies... Somehow I made myself to watch True Grit - had big doubts about it, but after all it was Coen brothers movie and it got only positive reviews all over internet. When the movie had finished I was completely stunned by how the story got me into it, how interesting and absorbing it was from the very first minutes!!! The characters were so genuine and extraordinary in the same time. I guess each of them could have their own individual movie, but here we had 3 of them crossing their paths of faith. Acting was just PERFECT - honestly I think this is Bridges best role, not to mention fantastic Damon and brilliant Steinfeld! In addition to that scenography and photography was excellent. Everything gave the viewer almost 2 hours of an amazing story, told in the best possible manner. Thank you brothers Coen for this masterpiece!
39 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Coens Show Some True Class
childsplayillustration1 December 2010
Those of you who wonder why someone would remake a good film, need to withhold judgment until seeing this film. It was one of the most authentic westerns I've ever had the privilege of viewing, and I am a die-hard western aficionado, and true-west historian. The costumes, the buildings, the interiors, and the dialogue were so meticulously crafted that I felt entirely immersed in a world long since forgotten, and often misunderstood. The acting was unbelievable as you'd expect from such established, accomplished thespians, but Hailee Steinfeld was a revelation, holding her own, if not carrying the entire film on her relatively small shoulders. The Brothers Coen have justified their choice to adapt Charles Portis' novel, not remake the John Wayne classic. The impact, and visceral reality of life in such places and times, coupled with the abrupt, brutal violence is something you didn't fully grasp in the grandstanding, heroics of the 1969 version. I applaud the Coens for exercising restraint and understatement to allow the scenes and the situations to breathe and take there natural course. Overall, it was an amazing cinematic experience that truly transports the viewer to a very real and fully realized time and space that crackles with fire and true grit.
409 out of 640 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't Compare
todd1959199424 December 2010
I am a fierce John Wayne fan. He was really great as Rooster in True Grit. The new version is not the same movie as John Wayne's. Don't compare the two. The story line's are similar, but that's it. This new version is a whole new story than the one written for John Wayne. This is a great movie, with truly great acting for all involved.

The 1969 movie was driven fully by Rooster Cogburn. This 2010 version is truly driven by Mattie Ross. The performances by Stienfeld, Bridges, and Damon shine. I would have liked to have seen Stienfeld and Damon against John Wayne. Bridges was terrific as Cogburn. The story was far better than I imagined it could have been.

I can't believe I said all this. I am one who absolutely hates re-makes. Like I said this is not the same movie.
194 out of 305 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The old west lives again
moviemanMA4 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
True Grit is not a remake, but a re-imagining. Narrated by Mattie Ross, played by Hailee Steinfeld, who makes her feature film debut, we find Mattie picking up the pieces following the death of her father at the hands of Tom Chaney (Brolin). A headstrong girl, Mattie isn't looking for a handout; she's looking for justice. She is directed towards Rooster Cogburn (Bridges), a Federal Marshall whose reputation for shooting his prisoners makes him the right fit for Mattie's cause.

She is discovered soon after by LaBoeuf (Damon) who is also looking for Chaney for a crime committed in Texas. Mattie's plan of riding off with Rooster and LeBoeuf are short lived when LaBoeuf refuses to go out into Indian territory with a "girl." Rooster, though reluctant at first, escorts Mattie into the territory.

Though I am not familiar with the novel with which it is based on, I would say that the Coens have done the story justice. Though you can't replace John Wayne's take on Rooster, Bridges gives a different, more rugged approach to the character. It wasn't "The Dude" or Bad Blake from last year's Crazy Heart. He was Rooster Cogburn the way the Coens wrote it. He doesn't step on Wayne's toes, but rather makes the character his own.

One upgrade from the original film (one of several) was Damon's portrayal of LeBoeuf. In the original, Glen Campbell played a much more cooperative LaBoeuf than Damon. Damon is more independent and clashes with Rooster more often. They're chemistry is much more believable and enjoyable.

Another major upgrade is the music. Though the original has the classic, big, sweeping score by Elmer Bernstein that many westerns of the day were accustomed to, it just didn't fit the story. It made is much lighter than it needed to be. Carter Burwell, whose previous work for the Coens is simply sublime, gives yet another stellar score, creating just the right mood and tempo. Rooster's charge at the end is accompanied by a wonderful piece of music that brings you right in the saddle with Rooster, guns-a-blazing, hollering and rooting for the good guys. Burwell's sense of both the time period and the mood of the film couldn't have been better.

Where would a Coen Brother's film be without some stunning visuals. Roger Deakins, whose work is up there with the best of the day, does a fantastic job capturing the sights of the wild west, in a way that films of the 50s and 60s couldn't do. The way sunlight coats the landscape, snow falling through the trees, and the shadows of a flickering fire are just moments that stand out.

Lastly we come to Joel and Ethan, who might be the finest pair of filmmakers working today. They are gifted in telling a story with images and dialogue. Though not working with an original work, still springs off of the screen. Not to mention the performances they get out of their cast is second to none. Everyone is on board for this picture, and it shows.

True Grit is a better film than the '69 version. The photography, supporting cast, and all around production is better. Still, I have no doubt that Rooster Cogburn will be remembered as John Wayne, I have to hand it to Jeff and the Coens for putting on a spectacular film, both a delight for the eyes and ears.
88 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The culmination of the movie doesn't give the satisfaction that you would expect.
IleWieszOOsmiornicach25 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Don't get me wrong, True Grit is a good movie. In a time when most films seen in cinemas are made for teenagers, it can appeal to anybody regardless of age. The gunfights (not much) and talking (a lot) give it a nice pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat while not being chaotic enough to confuse your father.

Mattie Ross is a 14-year old girl who gets a US Marshal Rouben "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help her track down and bring to justice her fathers killer (Brolin). Tom Chaney is also pursued by a Texas Ranger by the name of LaBeouf (Matt Damon), who wants to punish him for the crimes committed by him back in Texas.

***Spoilers start here, i guess.*** While the movie starts at slow and a little bit annoying pace, it soon picks up after our unlikely team leaves town. The director was obviously well aware of the saying that chasing a hare isn't about catching it but about the chase itself. True Grit makes you want to catch Tom Chaney along with it's heroes, but when they do actually get him, it does not give you the expected satisfaction. That is weird, because the character was obviously supposed to be given a personality. When he talks to Mattie you might even reconsider thinking about him as the bad guy - The bandits have emotions and Tom gets desperate after his team leaves him. But then, he quickly reverts to his "I'm this pictures' villain!" pose, tries to kill the girl and gets shot. Boom, that's it. Not even any last words that would make him more human and less two-dimensional. Nope. He gets shot point blank with a rifle. That's it. The force of the bullet causes him to fall off a cliff (Not very naturally, too) and that is the last time you see him. Did he have a personality? Or was he just trying to get Mattie to lower her guard? We'll never know.

Then, suddenly, a plot hole appears! It seems Mattie and Rooster have to leave LaBeouf, because he DOESN'T HAVE A HORSE! Yup, that's right. It doesn't matter much that he just shot a bandit off a mount 400 yards away, and that the horse is still standing there, saddled and ready. No. Instead, Rooster and Mattie (now bitten by a handy plot device, rattlesnake!) ride her horse to death and end up in a middle of a field. Cogburn, a weak old man then proceeds to carry the girl in a scene that was surely envisioned as touching, but still makes you wonder about why exactly didn't they take the horse with them (or LaBeouf, for that matter).

If you can ignore some plot points that don't feel right and the general lack of soundtrack in most scenes, you will find yourself captivated by the plot of True Grit, a motion picture that is by no means mediocre. Great acting skills of not only the main characters but supporting cast (such small roles as Dakin Matthews who argues with Mattie about a price of a horse) make it a memorable experience that I will be happy to watch again some time. You will enjoy it as long, as your expectations aren't too high.
17 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Classic Western
jrcj415 April 2011
If there's something to be said for classicism, it's certainly proved in Joel and Ethan Coen's 2010 Western drama True Grit. The adventure begins in 19th century Arkansas, where 14 year old tough-as- nails cowgirl Maddie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) sets out to avenge her father's murder at the hands of outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). With the most relentless local bounty hunter by her side in Reuben J. Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), she is determined to bring justice to her cause. Complications arise when the pair cross paths with the hotshot LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger who is confidently taking aim at the same man. After a series of alliances and realignments Maddie finds herself face-to-face with Chaney; her quivery hand clutching a silver pistol and her mind wrestling with the most important decision yet.

True Grit is a more than worthy successor to it's 1969 predecessor, as the Coen Brothers have followed more strictly the original 1968 novel by Charles Portis. The retention of the female narrator gives the plot an intimate personal aspect, encouraging the audience to root for Maddie throughout her adventure.

Hailee Steinfeld is a surprisingly mature newcomer to the screen, holding her own next to the incomparable talents of Bridges and Damon. With cowboys, outlaws, gun fights and plenty of hard boiled dialogue, True Grit is a classically made conventional western, whose brilliantly raw cinematography transports the audience to the dusty plains of the old west; a land of revenge, passion and grit.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Print the legend..
chaos-rampant24 January 2011
Few directors working today in America have mastered form like the Coens, I discover this with every new film they make. True Grit is a commercial film made to please but I don't see a compromise in the making and it's still a distinctly Coen film if you pay notice. Try to take out the Coen character from the film and the film breaks apart, it's that tightly woven in the fabric of it.

A Coen film works for me in the face of it, but I'm always on the lookout for what goes on behind, for the unseen cogs that grind out the fates of their characters. As with No Country, I came to this film looking to see is there a statement on violence, does it happen in a certain way and is the universe indifferent to it, is life worth a damn?

This one here works very much like the Henry Hathaway film from '69, except everyone's better, where John Wayne played a character, Jeff Bridges plays a man, and even Barry Pepper betters my beloved Robert Duvall's turn as Ned Pepper. This probably won't do it for Jeff Bridges because we've been accustomed to expect a certain degree of po-faced seriousness from a great performance (he snarled and staggered in Crazy Heart but he was serious about it), but he's one of the great actors of our times and I find this again in his Rooster Cogburn. Clint Eastwood also fell from a horse in Unforgiven and couldn't shoot a tin can to save his soul, but Munny "was" a scumbag, Cogburn still is and I like that. I like the courtroom scene where it's gradually revealed that he won't only bushwack those he needs to bring to justice, he will lie to make himself out to be the hero.

Another interesting aspect here is how the concept of the gunslinger and the western with it has evolved. When John Wayne played Cogburn in the Hathaway film the reward for the audience was the smirk of watching John Wayne be that drunken failure. The casting mattered in our appreciation. In the remake, most comments seem to point out that it's a fairly traditional/entertaining western. The dastardly revisit of something that was revisionist in the 70's oddly seems to give, in our day, a traditional western. We've been accustomed to heroes who are not heroes, and maybe the erosion of that heroic archetype says something about the way we view the world now, as opposed to 30-40 years ago. Then we were beginning to realize that wars are not gloriously, justly won but survived and endured, now we know there is no clear struggle between dual opposites and have grown disenchanted as that knowledge has failed to prevent the same wars. Now we know there is stuff about the legends that don't make the print, or we are suspicious enough about legends to imagine them.

Is this a traditional western then? Watching True Grit through the eyes of the brass 14yo girl reminded me of Winter's Bone, another film from the same year. In both cases a young girl is determined to plunge herself in a dark world of hurt and walk a path fraught with perils on all sides to achieve a moral purpose, both films maintain an appearance of realism, but what I get from them is a magical fantasy. This becomes more apparent when Mattie falls in the snakepit, but what about the hanged men who are really hanged high? The Hathaway film, ostensibly based on the same material, missed that note and played out a straight western. The Coen film unfolds as a hazy dream of that West. Although I wished for more open landscapes, it makes sense then that film narrows our gaze and clouds the margins. Perhaps we are even seeing the film as Mattie relives the experience in her old age, an affair shaped by memory and time.

This is the marvellous touch effected by the Coens on the material; the minute recreation of the Old West as a historical place and the odd, incongruous moments found within it annihilate any authority over the material.

The epilogue is important in that aspect.

It's not only that Mattie's revenge didn't accomplish anything, that it was for her merely another practical inconvenience to be bargained, paid for, and settled, like her father's ponies and saddle or the service of the US Marshall before, but that she clings to the memory of it so fiercely. What's horrifying then is not so much the violence of the West but the idealization of that violence. The film closes in a time around the turn of the century, people like Cogburn roosted in Wild West shows for a cheering audience, and Mattie is one of the people who lived to tell the tales. Out of those tales, the western of John Ford and Raoul Walsh emerged to print the legend. In a roundabout fantastic way, the Coens give us the true account, the creation myth behind the western.
88 out of 136 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Get the comparisons out of the way, then give the film its due.
winner5526 December 2010
Let's get the comparisons with Henry Hathaway's version of the Charles Portis novel out of the way. The Coen Brothers certainly knew that, however much they want to 'go back to the source material,' their film would play against Hathaway's version.

The Hathaway version, while tampering with details from the Portis original, remains strikingly true to its story and theme. This is most clear in the dialog - the decision not to tamper with Portis' language was decisive for the making of that film. The Coens' tampering with the novel is more subtle than Hathaway's film, but no less an interpretation.

Approaching the characters and composition of the Coens' version without reference to the Hathaway film apparently proved impossible. For instance, the shoot-out at the dug-out cabin was re-written for a night-scene, but the camera angles remain pretty much the high-elevation shots Lucien Ballard provided Hathaway, inter-cut with full body shots of people getting wounded and horses running (etc.)also similar to Ballard's.

Two performance stand out as striking examples of reference to the original film. Dakin Matthews seems to struggle mightily not to recreate Strother Martin's interpretation of the horse-trader Stonehill - and fails. Apparently Martin had the character down pat and there's nothing but to reproduce his interpretation. Far more to the point is Barry Pepper's interpretation of the desperate outlaw chief, Ned Pepper - it is pure Robert Duvall. Pepper can only match Duvall's self-aware determination - and he does - but he can't surpass it; nor can he find another interpretation to set off against Duvall's.

As for the Coens' own re-interpretation of the Portis novel, what was most noticeable to me were the minor points simply dropped out of the story telling. The most irritating to me were a pair of lapses that are interconnected and combine to make an important point about the characters. 1. We never get to see Mattie tell Rooster that Chaney has linked up with Ned Pepper (later Rooster does remark the fact, but how did he learn of it?); 2 We don't get to hear Rooster's remarking how he shot Pepper through the upper lip (because he was aiming at the lower lip). These two incidents combine to let the audience know that Cogburn's hidden agenda on the Chaney hunt is really Ned Pepper, he and Pepper have something of a feud going on - which information fills out the background detail for their final shoot-out. Except here we don't have that connection.

Finally, the whole Mattie - Rooster issue: many critics are saying that Mattie is more at the center here than in the Hathaway picture, which focused attention on John Wayne's Cogburn. Not true. When we add up screen time and lines of dialog, we discover that Mattie not only has as much time and dialog in the Hathaway film but it is in much the same proportion to Cogburn's as in this one. If most remember the Hathaway film as a 'John Wayne film,' that is due simply to Wayne's bravura performance.

Well, enough of the comparisons. Does the Coens' version measure up as film worth seeing on its own accord? Yes; we are presented here with a beautiful, frightening, amusing piece of 'Americana.' There are scenes approaching dream-like states, as in the meeting with the bear-man, and during Rooster's desperate drive to get Mattie to a doctor. Hailee Steinfeld is quite engaging, and Matt Damon develops an intriguing complexity that makes one wish he had more screen-time. Bridges' performance is the most problematic - Bridges plays Cogburn as a a kind of whimsical brute - as he rambles on with his life-story on the trail, we get the gnawing sense that, if we were not along for a dangerous manhunt and dependent on his abilities as a master man-hunter, Cogburn would be someone we would not like to know. This develops a distance between the audience and Cogburn that is actually rather on par for the Coens - there are no 'heros' in the Coen universe.

Perhaps that's a good thing here. Mattie in her experiences with the wild men of the old west has encountered something larger than her life on the farm could ever get her. These are men who make their own laws and are not bound to statutory codes or biblical decrees, and adapt their own law to the wilds of the frontier that surrounds them. Mattie is a confirmed church-goer with a good lawyer, and if she weren't so determined on her revenge, she would actually be impossibly small-minded and dull. This is a subtext to the novel that both films attempt to convey, but neither quite captures, because it's difficult for any film maker to admit that the central character of the story is the least interesting.

The age of such wild-men has passed. It is not that wild-men do not exist - wild-men show up quite frequently in Coen Brothers' films in contemporary settings - but now they are corrupted by moving outside the law and outside the commonplace, they grow sick and psychopathic. The killer in "Fargo" feeding the partner he's killed to a wood-chipper is as wild as one could get, but he is no longer larger than life, and evokes only the sickness at the heart of modernity, not any adaptation one would want to live with.

We look back at historical moments like those of the Old West because anything seemed possible to them, whereas very little is possible for us. But that might simply be a wishful delusion - and the Coens' clear suspicion that it is really determines the limits of what they accomplish here. They don't present the West as 'it really was,' nor do they present what we want from it, rather they present a disappointment with it. Rooster Cogburn is indeed 'larger than life,' but we wouldn't want to spend any more time with him than we do.
118 out of 197 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Better than the 1969 classic with John Wayne
knowyourmovie3 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Below are few reasons why the Coen brothers' "True Grit" is so good – a better, stronger movie than the 1969 version.

For me it all starts with the music. When I heard the timeless chords of "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" in the opening scene of the 2010 version, a famous Beethoven's saying came to my mind: "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy…" To me it would be a blasphemy even to think about comparing the heavenly, simple and comforting melody of the old hymn with the fancy, but ordinary and outdated music score from the 1969 movie.

The two adaptations differ significantly in their genre and depth. The 1969 version is more of a pure western kind, with the traditional Hollywood happy end, only slightly overshadowed by some minor collateral damage - human casualties. The movie does not give you much food for thought or any noticeable reason for reflection. The 2010 movie is much closer to the original novel. Without loosing a western feel, it also offers a deep and though-provoking main idea, tersely formulated by Mattie Ross: "You must pay for everything in this world one way or another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God".

At the beginning of the movie naive and grieving Mattie understands this idea simply as a human justice and she is ready to carry out the justice with her own hands and take vengeance on Tom Chaney, the murderer of her dearly loved father.

By the end of the movie, 25 years after the main events, it is clear for Mattie (and for us) that the concept is deeper than merely human justice, because the justice itself turned out to come at a price. Everyone had to pay, one way or another – not only criminals Tom Chaney and "Lucky" Ned Pepper, but also Rooster Cogburn, LaBoeuf, and – a bitter irony of the movie and of the novel – Mattie herself. I do not think it was an accident that the price that Mattie paid was the highest.

It is not surprising that the two so different movies offer quite different takes on the same characters. The portrayal of the legendary US Marshall Rooster Cogburn, the one with "true grit", has of course sparked the biggest controversy.

Some people would say that John Wayne, as a southerner with an outgoing personality, was a better fit for Rooster Cogburn than Jeff Bridges.

The problem with the 1969 movie, however, is that Rooster Cogburn there is not authentic. In the beginning of the movie, we still can see some awkward attempts to show certain flaws in the Cogburn's character. By the end, however, he triumphantly emerges as a knight in shining armor, a hero, almost a Prince Charming – masculine, strong, exciting, charismatic, energetic – and counterfeit. Do not get me wrong - I think that John Wayne was great in the movie and I fully enjoyed his performance, but the person, who he played, although very, very likable, simply was not Rooster Cogburn.

Rooster Cogburn played by Jeff Bridgesis much less exciting. He is obviously very good at what he is doing, but most of the time he is drunk, untidy, grumpy, melancholic, weak, boring, irritated, and broken. In other words, he is not a poorly disguised prince temporarily bewitched into a Beast as played by John Wayne.

Jeff Bridges is believable as a Civil War veteran who served in Confederate guerrilla, a twice-divorced loner, and a father who has not seen his only child for many years. He is believable as the "meanest" US Marshall with a "true grit" and a sad life story, who killed 23 men in 4 years. Unlike the John Wayne's character, he makes us feel sadness and compassion rather than excitement and admiration.

Overall, authenticity is a big problem for the 1969 movie. The 2010 version, however, meticulously follows both the novel and the historical truth in everything, from the costumes to the speech, from the decorations to the geographical locations, from the time of the year to the important developments of the original story. The 1969 classic unfortunately misses the mark in almost all the elements above.

I can go on and on comparing the movies, either holistically, or scene by scene, or actor by actor.

The 1969 version is a fine western that is fun to watch and is worth renting even today. It has some good scenes and good acting by John Wayne, Kim Darby, and especially Robert Duvall in a small but quite memorable supporting role of "Lucky" Ned Pepper.

However, there is probably not a single component where the 1969 movie surpasses the 2010 movie. Therefore, no matter how you slice it or dice it, the true winner is without a question the 2010 version of "True Grit".
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A rare gem from the western genre
elainehowie22 June 2018
I have seen quite a few western films and most of them are pretty mediocre. However, this film was great and made you forget the mainly awful western films that came before it. Even if western films are not your thing, you are most likely going to enjoy it. The plot is pretty simple: a 14 year old girl is out for revenge after a man murdered her father. The actress of the main protagonist is very good. Definitely recommend this film if you haven't seen it already.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Time just gets away from us.
Hey_Sweden29 November 2017
Jeff Bridges gets to put his own spin on the character of Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn, first portrayed by an Oscar-winning John Wayne in the 1969 film adaptation. Rooster is hired by a very plucky 14 year old girl, Mattie Ross (debuting Hailee Steinfeld), who wants to avenge her father. Dad was murdered by the cowardly Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who made out for Indian territory and who may now be riding with an outlaw, Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper), and his gang. They are joined by a determined Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who wants to arrest Chaney for a crime committed in the Lone Star state.

This new version of the Charles Portis novel was scripted and directed by the great filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, who treat the material respectfully, even reverently. The dialogue is antiquated, yet quite literate, and it truly comes to life when spoken by this well-chosen cast. The story is straightforward and without filler, the pacing very efficient. Serious at times (and funny at other times), the film never veers too far into melodrama. It hits the ground running, with an older Mattie (Elizabeth Marvel) narrating and giving us the back story of Mr. Ross' killing. Two frequent Coen brothers collaborators work some real magic: cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose widescreen compositions are wonderful, and composer Carter Burwell, whose music is breathtaking.

Bridges completely disappears inside the role of the surly, tough, hard drinking marshal, while Damon gives one of his better performances. Brolin and Pepper don't show up until around the 80 minute mark, but do extremely effective work. As soon as you meet Chaney, you know you loathe him; he's that much of a heel. The strong supporting cast includes Dakin Matthews, Paul Rae, Domhnall Gleeson, and Leon Russom; it's also great to see Jarlath Conroy from George Romeros' "Day of the Dead" as the undertaker. But young Steinfeld leaves the greatest impression, giving us a heroine who is capable, determined, and very mature for her age, a girl who can hold her own dealing with a character like Stonehill (Matthews).

"True Grit" 2010 is sometimes violent (and strikingly so), but is basically just a good, solid example of impassioned storytelling that maintains viewer interest for the better part of two hours.

Eight out of 10.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent Western and stand-out performance by Hailee Steinfeld!
TheTopDawgCritic14 July 2017
I loved everything about this film! I'm not a huge fan of Westerns, but the all star cast is what attracted me to this film. But it was Hailee Steinfeld's performance that won me over! Don't get me wrong, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin were all stellar in their performances, but Hailee stole the show. Directing, writing, editing and cinematography were all outstanding. If you have not seen this gem, do so and you will be glad you did! It's a well deserved 9/10 from me!
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Extremely PLEASANTLY Surprised ~ Very Good !!
StrayCat100018 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Hi, I vaguely remember the original(?) True Grit movie from the 70s with John Wayne and the crazy parody in Mad Magazine. You guys should google the latter - it was pretty hilarious in its time :) True Grit 2010 was on my Watchlist for a long time but I never got around to watching it until recently. I am amazingly surprised!! Also, I was barely familiar with Hailee Steinfeld and from the start I kept wondering "who in the heck is this SOLID, young, actress?!?".

True Grit 2010 is highly entertaining for many different reasons, it has an interesting plot & story & information about the old, wild west, includes some formal dialogue, great scenery, violence, and there's NO SEXUALITY REQUIRED which is RARE for Hollywood these days. The movie is ALSO entertainingly & wittingly FUNNY for a NON-comedy and often makes you "LOL" -- I LOVE THIS PART‼:)

Within the first few scenes Hailee's (and others') acting reels you in, hook, line, & sinker, you immediately sense "OK this is a high quality production", and then you stay engaged & entertained for the remainder of the movie. Hailee also keeps up and on par with long term, distinguished actors like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. Trust me on this. The character of Mattie Ross encompasses a pivotal role, of course, and is responsible for "carrying" the movie from start to finish.

Afterwards I did some research and it turns out they auditioned around 15,000 actresses to play the character of Mattie Ross and Hailee herself had to audition around 1/2 dozen times. After all that they certainly selected the PERFECT actress for the part‼

Way to go Hailee ~ it's awesome that from such a young age you discovered your true calling and NOW the world's your oyster! You're very well suited for "unique" roles, and movies from DIFFERENT ERAs, especially the past. Try to get roles from different and interesting genres, but ALWAYS MAKE SURE the screenplay is outstanding, the writing & production teams are extremely professional & first class, and team up with co-stars that are talented & distinguished actors. AVOID crappy plots, stories, and futuristic parts. You're gonna have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before you know it :)

Good Job Folks‼ Do you know which other movies Hailee Steinfeld gives a similar solid performance? If yes, please message them to me.

4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A remake that is every bit as good as the original
Tweekums15 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
After her father is murdered fourteen year old Mattie Ross is determined to bring Tom Chaney, his killer, to justice; to this end she hires US Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Cogburn drinks and has a reputation for shooting the people he is meant to be arresting but Mattie believes he has 'true grit' and is the man for the job. A Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf is also looking for Chaney in regards to a murder in Texas; a murder with a larger reward… Mattie however is determined that Chaney will hang for the death of her father not for what he did in Texas. She insists on accompanying Cogburn, something he initially objects to but as they travel deeper into Indian Territory, where Chaney is riding with a group of outlaws. Before catching up with Chaney they come across other members of the gang and reunited with LaBoeuf.

All too often when a classic film is remade the new film is a disappointment; thankfully that is not the case here. The Coen brothers' take on the story is every bit as good as the original. Young Hailee Steinfeld does a brilliant job as Mattie Ross; making the viewer believe that she has the force of will to do what she does and persuade others to go along with her demands. Jeff Bridges is on fine form as the grizzly Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damen is solid enough as LaBoeuf although his role is noticeably smaller than Stienfeld and Bridges. The early part of the film provides some action but is mostly concerned with introducing our protagonists. Later on there is more action including shootouts, a nasty encounter with a rattlesnake and the inevitable confrontation with Chaney and the rest of the gang. Overall I'd certainly recommend this film to fans of the genre; I'm sure people who enjoyed the original will enjoy this too.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Exactly What A Film Should Be!
kriskoppy196122 December 2010
Just came back from seeing "True Grit." Now this is the kind of film that the average person goes to the movies to see. It was amazing, highly entertaining, suspenseful, funny, and had a great story line. Jeff Bridges was fantastic, as was Matt Damon. Josh Brolin was good too, the only problem is I didn't get to see enough of him. He is definitely an up and coming actor that I hope to see more of. However, the best acting in the entire film was done by Hailee Steinfeld. Hailee plays the role of Mattie Ross and she is incredible. She really is 14 and held her own with the likes of Damon, Bridges, and Brolin. This film was an excellent western and comedy. There were several times that the theater was filled with laughter. I will definitely see this film again and may even purchase the DVD.
155 out of 274 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Funny,exciting,great dialogue excellent performances.
ianlouisiana19 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well,if you expected the Coens to make an orthodox Western like perhaps Hathaway or McClaglen might have done,you would have been in for a grievous disappointment as clearly a lot of contributors to this forum have been. In truth I am not an uncritical admirer of their output,a fair amount of which is - in my view - cinema for Philosophy Majors,not for the ordinary man or woman in the Multiplex.I found "No Country for Old Men" tremendously overblown with comic book performances and pretensions towards turning a good novel into a work of significant art;which it wasn't. Happily they left their tendencies towards self - importance behind with "True Grit" which is funny,touching,exciting and a little bit clever,but not too much. Pwersonally I loved the speech patterns that made it sound as if they had hired Jane Austen as script consultant,they emphasised that the movie,with its timeless theme of revenge was set in the past despite the sentiments being bang up to date. Mr Jeff Bridges is extraordinarily good as Reuben Cogburn,ornery,drunk, violent,dishonest and a cold - blooded killer when necessary,but - somehow - and Mr Bridges conveys this wordlessly - courageous,loyal and resourceful. The whole ensemble cast is remarkable. The Coens' West.much like their Fargo,is a bleak unforgiving place where human warmth is not abundant.Cogburn,Ross and LeBoeuf are cold and determined but eventually their mutual need binds them together in a perhaps rather unlikely fashion. As a Brit I find it inexplicable how a pedestrian and over - acted movie like "The King's Speech" could be considered superior to this imaginative and brilliantly written one,but hey...what do I know?
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Finally, proof that modern remakes aren't always a bad thing
robotbling10 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
( The Coen brothers are a wonderful writing and directing duo, so despite my general lack of enthusiasm for Westerns I gave True Grit the benefit of the doubt, and I'm glad I did. I've never seen the 1969 original, but I doubt it would stand up to this modern retelling. Everything from the acting down to the costume design is about as good as it gets.

Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshal hired by 14-year-old Mattie Ross (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) to find and capture the man who killed her father. Seemingly wise beyond her years, Steinfeld does a fine job of playing the calculating young woman and Bridges embodies the drunken old man. It turns out Ross' father's murderer is wanted for crimes in Texas too, and Matt Damon is in town as LaBeouf, a Texas Ranger who is also after him.

Against their better judgement, Mattie's tenacity convinces Cogburn and LaBoeuf that she has what it takes to tag along. The ongoing clash between Cogbun and LaBeouf, and Mattie's inexhaustible stubbornness provide most of the entertainment. There really aren't that many action scenes, but the film maintains an enjoyable balance of humour and tension throughout. Along the way we're treated to the stark scenic beauty Westerns are known for.

This is easily one of the better films I've seen in the past few years.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
True Coens
Galina_movie_fan17 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
True Grit (2010) is a new film by Brothers Coen for which they wrote the screenplay based on the eponymous cult western novel by Charles Portis. The novel was first brought to screen back in 1969 with John Wayne as the eye-patched, heavy drinking, trigger happy US Marshall Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn in Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1877, the possessor of "true grit" who was hired by a 14 year old girl Mattie Ross to find the killer of her father and to bring him to justice. During the last two weeks, I saw both films back to back and found them gripping, entertaining and very well made.

I did not read the Charles Portis' novel and I can't say I am a big westerns fan even though I've seen and enjoyed some of them but I am a longtime loyal fan of all things Coen and I did not miss a single one of their movies. I sincerely believe that the Coens do not make bad movies for the simple reason they don't know how. True Grit is their first Western, and the first film since 2003 rated PG 13. For many fans that always wait impatiently for their next film, the brothers' choice of the material was a surprise. Coens have only remade one film before True Grits (The Ladykillers), and they never made a pure western before but after watching True Grit, it is perfectly clear that their latest film is a "true Coens", the western as only Ethan and Joel could have made it. According to Ethan Coen, before the shooting started, the Coens wanted to make a more faithful adaptation of the novel and to tell the story the way it was told in the book: from the point of view of Mattie Ross, the 14 years old girl who set her mind on hiring the right man for the job of finding and bringing to justice the murderer of her father. The newcomer Halee Steinfeld brings such incredible independence, sharpness, courage, intellect and toughness to the character of Mattie that she more than holds on her own in the scenes she shares with the true stars/talented actors, such as Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper among others. As wonderful as these actors are, this is Halley/Mattie's film, and she owns it from her first appearance.

The Coens mentioned that the novel is tough, violent, and funny, and that's how they wanted to adapt it to the screen. I believe that they achieved their goal because their adaptation of the novel is a "true Coens" -very dark, violent (I personally could not watch the scene in the snake-pit and had to turn away) yet funny - thanks to another memorable performance from Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Coens 'unique dark humor which is in the dialogs and the characters' personalities. The screen chemistry among Bridges, Steinfeld, and Matt Damon as Texas Ranger, who is also in search of Tom Chaney for another murder, is very strong and watching three of them together is the viewers' delight. My only problem with the Bridges' performance is the way he speaks his lines. It was hard to understand what he was saying and some of the Coens'-Portis' writings were lost on me. In this regard, following John Wayne's Rooster was much easier.

As always, Coens' cooperation with the brilliant cinematographer Roger Deakins, produced the film of indescribable beauty and authentic atmosphere of the time long passed. The scene close to the end of the film where Rooster rushes on the horseback to get bitten by the deadly rattlesnake Mattie to the doctor as the day light changes to darkness and the huge surreal stars lit the sky is breathtaking and its beauty brought the tears to my eyes. It is without doubt the most memorable shot in the Coens-Deakins movies for me. I realize that the awards may not be important in order to recognize and to admire Deakins' vision but it was upsetting to find out that in spite of having been behind the camera for dozens of the greatest films from over 20 years, he has never been awarded the Oscar for his work. This is a criminal oversight from the Academy of Motion Pictures and I hope that he will be rewarded for his camera-work in "True Grit".

Some viewers and critics find he end of the film rushed and somehow abrupt. Wrong. It is a perfect ending to a perfect film; besides, it follows the novel's ending faithfully. It is different from more optimistic final of the older version but both finals fit their films very well.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert wrote about Ethan and Joel Coen's "Fargo": "Films like "Fargo" are why I love the movies," I would say, it is true about every one of the Ethan and Joel Coens' films including the adaptation of True Grit.
26 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.
Spikeopath25 June 2011
When her farmer father is killed by the fleeing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), 14 year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), exasperated by nothing being done about it, decides to hire someone herself. The man she hires is tough, one-eyed US Marshall Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a boozy lawman who is a law unto himself. Joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon), who also seeks Chaney for another crime, the three of them head off into the Indian territory on a quest for justice.

When news of a True Grit remake was announced, it was met with the now standard grumbles that accompany any such news. Eyebrows were further raised when it was known that it would be the Coen brothers taking on the job of reworking the much loved, but hardly a genre classic, John Wayne starrer of 1969. After all, who can forget their previous poor foray into remake territory with The Ladykillers (2004)? But after the critical and financial success of their "contemporary" Western, No Country for Old Men, the source material for True Grit looked a nice fit for the Coen's, and with them announcing they were to cleave close to Portis' novel, hopes were high of a modern Western fit to sit alongside the likes of Unforgiven in terms of stature and widespread appeal. The film duly delivered. Even though the initial interest in the film was no doubt helped by the ever increasing fan base of the Coen's, True Grit went on to be almost unanimously acclaimed by the critics, making over $200 million in profit Worldwide and garnering 10 Academy Award nominations in the process. For once, all the praise and back slapping is warranted.

It's a film where everything just comes together because all the big decisions have been called correctly. From inspired casting, technical prowess and the biggest decision of them all; following the book and telling it from Mattie Ross' perspective, True Grit is as close to perfection as a new millennium Western is going to get. The Coen's have managed to craft a classic old time Western rife with stock genre characters, and infuse it with evocative beauty, mythical tones and Biblical undercurrents. Not forgetting a narrative that is propelled forward by a revenge core and coming of age wonderment. The script pings with lyrical smarts that hark back to an era long since dead, yet bringing with it an elegiac poeticism that plants us the viewers firmly in the period. Helps of course that the source story is so strong from which to launch such delights. Mattie Ross, indomitable at 14 years of age, is forced to grow up faster than should have been needed, and story involves the critical passage of play in her life. Yet as she is awakened to the harsh realities of her era, evidenced by the tragic murder of her father, she also comes to see the flip-side of bad humanity, and it's this, with Rooster Cogburn in tow, that gives the film its key ingredient: big heart. Come the emotional stirrings of the coda at the end of the film, the heart is the organ that feels it the most.

There are very few film fans who would deny Jeff Bridges his new found acceptance as a top draw actor, here he cements his reputation with a wonderful turn as old rascal Cogburn. Wisely not channelling Duke Wayne's take on the role, Bridges puts his own stamp on it, playing it lovably slobbish and with a voice gravelled by many years of hard drinking and tobacco smoking. Once the layers start to come off, after being exposed to Mattie Ross' courage and determination, Bridges gives Rooster an emotional depth that didn't seem possible in the beginning. A double hander from Bridges, the end result being a classic case of character acting. He is helped no end by the chemistry with Steinfeld, who in light of it being her first big screen outing, turns in an astonishingly mature performance. She gives Mattie a steely determination, quick of mouth and mind, yet always remaining one inch away from the melancholy brought about by the sudden change in life circumstance. It wouldn't have been hard for Damon to improve upon the inept performance of Glen Campbell as LaBoeuf in the 69 version, but he plays off of Bridges with unassuming ease. Playing the cocky bravado and comedy at just the right tempo, he knows just when to underplay the critical scenes. In support, Brolin as Chaney is just dandy, himself orally challenged, while Barry Pepper, himself a fine character actor, turns in a memorable treat as scuzzy outlaw Lucky Ned Pepper.

Rounding out the list of achievements is Roger Deakins and Carter Burwell's respective work. Both of whom are now well established as important pieces of weaponry in the Coen's armoury. With the Coen's favouring a Biblical tint to proceedings, Burwell came up with the idea of playing on hymns and church like flecks to soundtrack the film. An unusual "score", it flows sweetly with the narrative. Most potent is the strains of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" used to form Mattie's theme, fans of The Night of the Hunter will need no introduction to that particular piece. Deakins' photography is gorgeous, and it's not just about capturing sprawling vistas either. His close photographing of bare trees and parched land is pin sharp in detail, while the winter setting that dominates the last quarter lets him showcase the skill of lighting for best possible impact. More memorable, though, is his ability to utilise outdoor light for interior scenes. As touched upon in a sadly too small extra on the home format releases, a court room scene has Rooster cloaked by shards of light, giving him an aura of mysticism to the watching Mattie. A stunning piece of work in what all told is a stunning film. 10/10
29 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Simply just a really solid piece of storytelling with good work across the board
bob the moo15 February 2011
I wasn't sure how to take the news that the Coen brothers were remaking the John Wayne film True Grit and I remained unsure even when it was clear that they were not so much remaking the film as making a different version of the original book. How would their humour and oddity sit in this story, how would their normal arch cynicism and cleverness work here? Well in reality it doesn't really come into play because they have made a film that is surprisingly free of that side of their work while also containing just enough in terms of characters and dialogue to make it their own. Mostly though what True Grit does is deliver an enjoyable story in an engaging and satisfying manner.

While I don't agree with IMDb observer-in-chief tedg's overall rating for the film, he is correct when he says that the western as a genre has really been thoroughly explored and it is hard to bring freshness to such a film. The Cohen's struggle with this a little bit because it doesn't feel like "their take" on a genre so much as it does just feel like a western full stop. This perhaps limits them in terms of their own style but it does mean that they are focused on the telling of the story rather than anything else they may have added for colour. The end result of this is that the film is actually a really solidly told story that perhaps doesn't soar or have flamboyance or colourful touches but it does still engage as a tale. The story will be known to those familiar with the Wayne film but the slant very much onto Mattie makes it feel like a different story, albeit with much familiar about it. It is well told though and I found myself engaged by it just as much as I was never really thrilled by it. It has heart in its main character, it has a forward motion and it has a nice touch of humour throughout.

The key to it is the performance from Steinfeld. She may well have been put forward for Supporting Actress in a political move by the studio but she is the heart and soul of this film. Her performance makes her Mattie a stubborn youth but one with juts enough vulnerability about her to suggest some of it is a front to cover herself in this regard. While she never struck me as a person that would exist within this story, she did convince me as a character and she was a delight to watch – this is her story and she makes it such. This puts Bridges in the supporting role and he is great there, having fun with the role and adding colour to things. Damon underplays wisely – sparking nicely off Bridges but letting these two having the light. Brolin, Pepper and others all deliver solid turns without stealing anything. Perhaps aware of what the genre is best known for (the landscapes) Deakins is restrained; where he made art with Jesse James, here he focuses on the smaller moments – the light from a campfire, the falling of snow – and he captures them excellently. At some point he will win his Oscar – maybe this is it but certainly his body of work cries out for it.

True Grit is not quite the brilliant piece of work that the "for your consideration" campaign would have you believe but it is a great piece of storytelling. The Coen brothers deliver some fine dialogue and colour but leave the telling free of cynicism or snideness (not a word, but you know what I mean). The story engaged me and is only made better by the strong pair of performances in the lead – but particularly Steinfeld, who makes this film in the same way that Portman made Black Swan this year.
17 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
How many eye patches does hindsight wear?
tieman6427 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Henry Hathaway directed "True Grit" in 1969, a routine western with a memorable performance by John Wayne as bastard gunslinger Rooster Coburn. The Coen brothers remade "True Grit" in 2010. That film went on to become their biggest box office hit.

Much of the new "Grit's" financial success – it took over 200 million dollars at the ticket booths - had to do with the name "Rooster Cogburn" having a certain brand recognition. Indeed, polls show much of the film's box office being down to old timers visiting cinemas in droves, desperate to catch a glimpse of the new John Wayne. Cogburn himself is, like Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey, the kind of vengeful, idiotic, super right-wing American hero who shoots first and asks questions later. He's the likable bastard who embodies the American desire for swift, frontier justice. It's no surprise that President Nixon adored the original "Grit" and wrote a loving letter to Wayne praising his performance. Cogburn fits Nixon's fantasy image of himself: the outlaw lawman, an American hero who righteously endures a little White Man's Burden, a little barbarism and blame so that order is restored and wrongs are made right. No surprise too that the original "Grit" was released at the height of the Vietnam War, its "shoot first, fix things later" plot tapping into a kind of cosy fascism.

So much of "Grit's" box-office seems down to nostalgic Americans looking to reconnect to some more Dirty Harry mythology. Like Scorsese's "Cape Fear", another remake which was praised by critics, became the director's highest grossing film, and which time revealed to be total crap, "Grit" perhaps also marks the point at which the Coens moved from being outsiders to insiders. No longer cult film-makers, they're now fully embraced by younger generations. Cue money, prestige and much awards.

Both "Grits" are based on a novel by Charles Portis, and both tell a fairly straightforward tale in which a young girl (Mattie) sets out to avenge the murder of her father. Seeking help she hires Rooster Cogburn - played by Jeff Bridges in this re-adaptation - a hard-drinking Federal Marshal who prides himself on his ruthlessness. By the re-adaptation's end, we learn a message typical of the western genre: an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind and revenge takes its toll on the body and the soul.

If you've seen the 1969 film, then the Coens' take is dull as hell. Virtually every scene is the same, the plot unchanged and most sequences replicated without an ounce of imagination or surprise. Whilst the Coens' remake of "The Ladykillers" was zany enough to warrant viewing, "Grit's" is a decidedly pointless affair, every scene matching Henry Hathaway's merely competent direction blow for blow.

Even if you haven't seen the 1969 film, this is a sub-par western. The Coen's fail to convincingly evoke the feel, tone and expansiveness of the West, and for a film called "True Grit" the flick is surprisingly spotless, with slick CGI towns, CGI horses, clean, well starched clothes and supremely self-conscious dialogue. Unable to conjure up novel images, the Coens, like Tarantino, also find themselves playing formalist games with words, manicuring every line of dialogue and going to pains to remove all contractions (simple folk of the era used more contractions than we do now).

Bizarrely, the Coen's "Grit" is typically treated as a "serious" and "authentic" western. But like "Fargo", "Grit" is a genre game pretending to be serious but played entirely for laughs. Portis was himself a precursor to postmodernists like the Coens and his novel was itself a work of satire, Portis formalizing western conventions to the point of absurdity. With his flamboyant and purposefully convoluted dialogue, comic business and deadpan humour, Portis took a century of Wild West writing and played prose games with the pieces. But it's been half a century since Portis, the genre now toyed with so much, and the era of sincerity long gone, that modern consumers sadly mistake the Coens' dry retelling as being earnest and Portis' prose as being canonical. But how could anyone miss Barry Pepper's deadpan mimicking of Robert Duvall (from Hathaway's film) and the film's cast of dimwits and buffoons?

More than most Coen brothers flicks, "True Grit" is very verbose, packed with long winded dialogue, a kind of hillbilly Tarantino speak (a guy falls down, says: "I am severely injured") or flowery showing off. As for Cogburn, the Coens erase Hathaway's reactionary ideology almost completely. Where Hathaway offered a traditional revenge movie, the Coens are bound to post-Vietnam genre revisionism. Mattie thus goes through a watered down version of Bill Munny's transformation in "Unforgiven", another supposedly "anti violence", "anti revenge" Western. Elsewhere the film's revenge/hunt themes are treated rather superficially (see the westerns of Budd Boetticher, Anthony Mann, even offbeat westerns like "Rancho Notorious" and "The Bravados"); Mattie looks like she stepped out of a comic-book, not a world which forged a heart of hate.

Of course Bridges is a better actor than Wayne, but his character is nevertheless less interesting and his relationship with Mattie less compelling. Wayne was shown to be violent, mean and alcoholic, but his various ruminations about his wife and past were touching and earned our sympathy. In contrast, Bridges' violence and alcoholism are undeveloped, and he earns no sympathy. He's just another Coen yokel, albeit with added screen time.

6.5/10 – Reflexive cinema squared, behind its gloss this is arguably the worst Coen flick. Some great Jeff Bridges westerns: "Wild Bill" and "Bad Company". More interesting westerns: "Open Range", "Shotgun Stories", "Meek's Cutoff", "Lonestar", "Lonely are the Brave", Altman's "Buffalo Bill", "Mccabe and Mrs Miller", "Flesh and Bone" (1993), "Ride With the Devil", "Hombre", "Hud" and "The Long Riders".
51 out of 94 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not a winner
petsteph15 February 2011
It seems that the consensus of opinion is that this is another masterful work by the Coen Bros, but it left me disappointed. In a nutshell it felt to me that they never got the movie together.

The story has some intriguing elements - the young girl seeking revenge, her character, her choice of Rooster as the hunter; Rooster himself; the Labouef character and his contrast with Rooster; the nature of the villain (before he is seen);and the usual thrill of a chase. But somehow all these fine elements didn't ever seem to come together - I kept waiting for it to happen and it never did except in the most slap-dash and corny way. Even the last scene failed to ring true: it was possible to suspend disbelief over Mattie's character for the sake of letting the young actress show her stuff and the director to add a curious dimension to the character, but in the end I didn't care about her at all.

There was a real tension being built up to the confrontation with the villain but from then on the move just seemed to run out of gas and depend on clichés to get it thru to the down-beat ending.

Cinematography was excellent, script was good, cast was good, but somewhere in there the directors lost interest and failed to do a professional job of making a movie.
126 out of 252 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Grit times three equals true grit
JohnRayPeterson9 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Please indulge me for my preface. Westerns are still being produced, still have a pretty good and devoted following and have in fact improved over time in the depth of the characters they portray as well as the authenticity and historical impact they now convey, correcting most all inaccuracies and false myths they once had a poor reputation for. The source of drama and cinematography the genre abounds with seems inexhaustible. I have been a born-again fan of the genre since 1992, when four times Oscar winner "Unforgiven" was released onto an unsuspecting public. I believe many like me have been rediscovering the classic westerns and a bunch of various western sub-genres; 148 westerns of all sub-genres have been released since 1992 up to "True Grit's 2010 remake. You don't have to take my word for it; you just have to count them for yourself.

The remake of "True Grit" garnished, like that of the remake "3:10 to Yuma", more high praise, box office and ratings than critics would have predicted. Other "new classic western" like "The Proposition(2005)", "Hidalgo (2004)", "Appaloosa (2008)", and many more I apologize for skipping keep the genre alive. Even HBO's "Deadwood" had a fabulous reception from the cable/ppv viewing audience. The most recent western to muster widespread accolades is True Grit.

Let us not forget that, as in the 1969 original, the character of Mattie Ross, the young girl who sought to hire marshal Rooster Cogburn for his reputation as a man with grit, was herself displaying throughout the movie more grit than Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf put together; hence my choice for review summary. When I viewed the 1969 version, a long time ago, I was already familiar with Kim Darby who played Mattie Ross then, so I was not all that surprised with her impressive performance, knowing her acting range. Hailee Steinfeld, who plays that role in the 2010 version, was unknown to me; so her performance was a very pleasant surprise. I mention that first because so much is written and said about Jeff Bridges' performance that it overshadows a very good performance of what I consider to be a co-starring role. The third role in importance, but a lesser role is that of Matt Damon playing LaBoeuf; I do prefer his performance to that of Glen Campbell. It could be because everyone likes Damon and Campbell had a voice I found annoying.

Now, getting to Jeff Bridges; regardless of how much anyone may be a fan of John Wayne( I am) and how deserving he was of his best actor Oscar for his performance in the original "True Grit", Bridges delivered a superb version of Rooster Cogburn, living up to the character's traits in all the ways possible. He was nominated for the role, but the likelihood of a role landing a best actor award twice was almost predictable; the academy was not about to set such a precedent, not to mention the winner of that year's crop was as deserving (a relief to the academy I'm sure).
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed