True Grit (2010) Poster

(2010)

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10/10
One of the most crowd-pleasing films I think the Coens have ever made, accessible, simple, mythic and finally beautiful
Grey Gardens15 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.
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8/10
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.
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10/10
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.
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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.
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10/10
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.
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10/10
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!
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10/10
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.
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8/10
A fine "late western"
Philby-319 February 2011
This must be the least "Coenish" of the 10 or so movies of Ethan and Joel Coen that I have seen. At first impression it is a straight-forward adaptation of Charles Portis's novel, including the use of much original dialogue which is distinguished by its lack of crude language. It is not a remake of the 1968 film for which John Wayne got an Oscar for best actor, though Jeff Bridges has been nominated as best actor for his take on the same character, Rooster Coburn. I thought he mumbled too much, but was otherwise very impressive.

Several things stand out. One is the sumptuous production values – the 19th century frontier is painstakingly re-created and the rugged landscape captured. Another is the authentic dialogue, even though one of the characters, the vengeance seeking 14 year old, Mattie Ross (a very convincing Hailee Steinfeld) is wildly improbable. The story itself, the hunt for the father's killer, is told without too much contrived drama, though there are some suspenseful moments and a certain amount of bloody action. The film is also beautifully paced. Some may find the opening scenes in Fort Smith drag a bit, but they are essential to the realisation of the characters. As the search gets under way there is enough action to keep us interested.

The wild west is long gone and westerns are no longer fashionable, though the Coens did a successful modern version of one in "No Country for Old Men". The rugged frontiersman, of which Rooster is a shining example, is no longer a heroic figure. They were brutal times - justice was rough and public hangings frequent – and Rooster was no better than he ought to be. Yet he is capable of heroism, unlike his opponents (leaving aside Indians, who do not feature in this story).

The relationship between Rooster and Mattie evolves from service provider - customer to something more like father – daughter. At least you feel she is the sort of daughter Rooster could be proud of. But in the end he is too emotionally stunted to persevere and he slips out of her orbit.

Anyway, this is a very fine "late western" and very entertaining. But it reminds us that myths fade, and what was admirable 50 years ago may be semi-barbaric today. "How the West Was Won" is a bit like Bismark's sausages. Its better not to watch them being made.
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7/10
The culmination of the movie doesn't give the satisfaction that you would expect.
Leszek Kicior25 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.
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8/10
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.
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10/10
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.
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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".
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1/10
Are you kidding me?! Whats with all the "applause" about?
nweako23 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Let me just start out by saying I have never reviewed anything in my life...OK maybe I have (music album). I just created an account to review this awful movie! I have never seen the original, but after watching this, I wish I had. This is sooo boring I can't believe all the people praising it. and WHAT BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY?! there is nothing special about it!!are some people just so desperate for a good movie that they go on lying to them selves so they can like it! I understand people got different tastes, but the way positive reviews just keep on coming makes me wonder if I am the crazy one! No Country For Old Men had a beautiful cinematography, but this one was soo pale.

Jeff, Matt and Josh...they are all great actors, but not here, in my opinion they didn't suit the role. Everything came out unnatural and over-acted, especially from bridges. The girl was good though.

I went with my father, and he is just a western junkie and is very easy to please when it comes to movies, he just likes anything that shows on the screen, and he disliked this very much.

The brothers are good, but not here, this is their most uninteresting peace of work and...very boring. I can't help to think people like this cause the Coens are in it.
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1/10
True Grit 1969 versus 2010!
srric16 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Had the original 1969 production of "True Grit" never been made, I would have said this new version is a pretty decent movie. HOWEVER, not only have I seen both movies, unlike most here, I ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK by Charles Portis. Matt Damon admittedly never saw the original film and the Coen brothers apparently say they only saw it as kids. Quite intriguing since they supposedly wrote the screenplay and manage to match much of the original film's dialogue word for word. Additionally, much of the acting here is nearly identical(Voice inflections and such. Hmmm).

Right from the start, when Mattie Ross started saying she had hired Rooster Cogburn to assist her, I was eagerly anticipating the reincarnation of the Duke in some form from the great beyond. Seriously! What a disappointment! Jeff Bridges in an outhouse? Please!! While Jeff Bridges is a fine actor and his character here is quite interesting, he just does not replace or improve on the original in any way. Not even remotely! He mumbles incessantly through his dialogue and never creates the picture of a character of "True Grit." Here he is much more akin to Otis on "The Andy Griffith Show" as the town drunk.

As far as being true to the original novel(which has been stated frequently by the film's participants), that is accurate only in the ending. The 2010 production does in fact follow the novel to its conclusion many years later. In reality though, this adds little to the movie itself and in fact is a bit depressing. The book is not depressing. The original film ends on a cheerful note, whereas this one follows through to the inevitable end of every person that ever lives. They die! However, this has really nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie itself and adds nothing of worth.

The original film is nearly word for word from the Portis' novel and has an absolutely outstanding conclusion. This new version is substantially less attached to Portis and ends poorly at best.

The Coens change several scenes and even add new ones, that have nothing whatsoever to do with the original book. NOTHING AT ALL! This would be OK except for the fact, that they claim a close adaptation of the original novel. It is not, and it adds nothing to improve the overall value of the movie.

As far as the acting goes, Hailee Steinfeld does a very commendable job of copying Kim Darby's nearly perfect performance. Unfortunately, she is NOT nearly as good or even remotely as entertaining as the original. Not a chance!

The other 2010 version cast members are as equally NOT GOOD! Comparing Strother Martin as Colonel Stonehill in the original to the new guy is not an option. Dennis Hopper as Moon, Jeff Corey as Tom Chaney, James Westerfield as Judge Parker, and H.W. Gim as Chen Lee all added to the greatness of the original 1969 film. These were all great actors, that added their touch to an outstanding John Wayne film. To attempt to compare the new Ned Pepper to the original performance by Robert Duvall is absurd. Even Glen Campbell(who was reamed as the original La Boeuf) is FAR MORE INTERESTING AND ENTERTAINING than Matt Damon's dull, dull, and flat disinterested performance.

As intimidating an actor as was John Wayne, he ALWAYS allowed his supporting cast to let loose with their own unique talents, and it always was a great benefit to the final outcome. This is very much not in attendance in 2010. The supporting cast are in reality just reading old lines here, as they come across as completely boring and this movie is just HORRIBLY DULL in comparison to 1969! Even the scenic shots from 41 years ago are far superior. Hard to believe this reality in the new world of digital technology.

I really hesitate to compare Jeff Bridges to a guy who was a top(if not always #1) box office draw for 5 straight decades(30's through 70's), because I nearly always enjoy watching Jeff Bridges. BUT, in this case he is way out of his league. PERIOD!

As far as the Coen brothers go, for them to be able to come up with great films like "Fargo" and "No Country For Old Men," should also give them enough intuitive foresight to realize, YOU DON'T MESS WITH CREATIVE PERFECTION!

In regard to the executive producer(Someone who gets paid a substantial sum, but does little else)Steven Spielberg, needs to stick with "Indiana Jones" and "ET." When it comes to great westerns, you are NOT at all with the program.

The original 1969 production of "True Grit" was a fun and highly entertaining film, which is what movies are nearly always meant to be. ENTERTAINMENT! PERIOD! It is most worthy of historical significance in the archives of filmdom. To remake it with the intent of surpassing and basically spitting on the original production is the work of fools. Clearly the only object here is to make money. I'm sure they are very successful at that, but it is most assuredly at the expense of a real work of art from long ago. See the original and dare to compare.
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6/10
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.
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5/10
Can't help but compare
ssrcmcleod3 January 2011
Sorry folks, the 2010 version can't hold up to the 1969 version. I can't see an academy award going to anyone for this movie. It was okay, but I'm to much of a fan of the 69 version to rate this movie any higher. I found so much in this movie that compared to the first that the sequences, dialogue timing, actors actions, etc, of the new version in some cases didn't make sense. I found some of the dialogue was not as fluid as it could be. It almost appears the movie was made in a rush when you listen to some of the lines. I can't say this has been some of the best acting for Bridges and Damon either. Hallie Steinfeld however deserves all the credit for the success of this movie.
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1/10
What a let down!
Mushhusky6 January 2011
I was very excited to go see this film with my husband as we both love westerns. To both our horror this film was very slow and too manicured and staged to even be halfway believable. The acting was stiff and I felt the lines were awkward and unrealistic for the times. The cast just did not work well together and were simply reading their lines and had no feeling or expression in the presentation. The film went on and on and on and never did pick-up. Wow....I wish we could get back to the great westerns with awesome actors that can really give you a heart pounding performance and keep you entertained throughout the entire story. If you love a true western that really makes you believe & feel involved and interested in the story then I would highly suggest you skip this film, it is by far the worst western I and my husband have every seen!Our friends also saw this film and found it terrible!
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1/10
Terrible
skids482 January 2011
Most of the movie involved Rooster and Labeef arguing. Who likes listening to a drunk and a liar argue. The first time may have been a little amusing but it wore off quickly. Mattie was boring. Most of Rooster's monologue was mumbled, to give the appearance of being drunk I suppose but if you can't understand someone then what is the point. John Wayne's Rooster was a lovable person. Bridges is just a drunk that no one would care about. Why the Clown Bros. thought they could remake a classic and outdo it amazes me. There was nothing that captivated me, there was nothing amusing about any part of the movie. It was quite painful watching it. Overall the movie was terrible. I'm sorry I wasted my time.
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2/10
True Grit? Truly Overrated
mercyah6 January 2011
I consider myself a movie buff and have seen many a good western in my time . Sadly I feel this is not one of those movies . Instead of a long winded review, ill keep it brief. Bridges , you couldn't understand a damn thing that came out of his mouth. Brolin was on screen for the only ten good minutes of the film. Damon was laughable, and the girl had no character development so although her acting was good, her character was annoying. Now the story; you have the girl mouthing off the first half hour, then her and Bridges, and yes sometimes Damon frolicking across the desert for an hour and ten minutes. So that leaves about five minutes of the real story we've been waiting for. The ending leaves little or no closure. I found myself bored and restless during the movie. I also find myself wondering what drug everyone is on to find this movie so "amazing". Please save your money and go watch something else instead.
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1/10
Over-rated beyond belief
spotlightne9 February 2011
What a stinker this film is. It was tiresome and painful to watch. Slow and boring.

I didn't like any of the characters, unlike the original True Grit.

First off, Hailee Steinfeld is a terrible Mattie. She is just so annoying. I don't think this is so much the character's traits. But it is the fact Hailee isn't a good actress.

She has been hyped up as some great talent. Far from it, she recites her lines almost parrot fashion and without any true emotion.

Secondly, Jeff Bridges is totally miscast here. The accent he uses is often incomprehensible. And for much of the film he sounds like Karl Childers from Sling Blade.

John Wayne's Rooster was a lovable rouge. Jeff's Rooster is a hobo-type figure who looks like he pongs rotten. He too recites his lines as if he's reading directly from the script. Nothing likable about him one bit.

I'm bored already writing about this film, all except it's poop. Unbearably tiresome, bleak, vacant and stale.

No wonder it won nothing at the Oscars. Finally the Panel saw sense to ignore it. So do yourself a favour and watch the 1960s version.
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6/10
A nagging question and two wishes that alter my view of True Grit
malcolmi9 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Owning the original, and having looked forward to seeing the new version, I find myself wondering why the Coens rewrote the script to have LaBoeuf live, instead of following the original script and letting him die of the blow to the head administered by Chaney, after guiding his horse to pull Cogburn and Mattie from the snake pit. His death makes the outcome of the journey more bleak - the attempt to bring Chaney to justice costs yet another life - and makes Cogburn's rescue of Mattie especially urgent. It gave extra texture to what had seemed like amusing superficiality in Glenn Campbell's original performance. I wondered whether star-status made the Coens, or their money-men, think "we can't kill Damon off - his public wouldn't accept it." Result: LaBoeuf's presence becomes mere comic relief, and this version of the film is weakened.

I wish Tommy Lee Jones had been given the part rather than Jeff Bridges. Anyone who's seen Lonesome Dove or In the Valley of Elah (or No Country for Old Men) knows that Jones would have made a brilliant Cogburn, free of the Dude-ish baggage which burdens Bridges.

And I wish also that the Coens had used that boarding-house scene from the original in which Mattie, after all her pugnacious bravery, at the livery stable and with Cogburn, cradles her dead father's pocket watch and weeps, becoming a little girl again. Kim Darby made that moment real, and it lent extra power to her resolve when Cogburn and LaBoeuf tried later to ditch her. The Coens let Hailee Steinfeld look sad, but mere sadness isn't enough, and the opportunity was lost.

Much to appreciate and think about in the look of this version, but some sense of the opportunities missed.
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1/10
Wait for the video. If you've seen the original, you'll be disappointed.
jmichaelwalker29 December 2010
OMG. Just saw it. To all of those who say that it is not the same movie and not to compare the two, "Are you freaking kidding me? It's almost shot for shot the same movie - Only without a tough guy to play the tough guy (Duke), the fabulous scenery from the original and any meaningful character development. It was painful to sit through."

The Original was shot in Ridgeway, Colorado, which has some of the most beautiful country in the United States. The remake? Not so much. Most is shot in some valley with little to look at.

The character development is nonexistent. Jeff Bridges' take on a tough guy is to speak as if his mouth was full of marbles. Oh, he's so scary. Matt Damon is forgettable. Hailee Steinfeld is the only shining star. It's just too little too late.

The Coens were clearly going for a Shakespearian cowboy twist by peppering copious amounts of iambic pentameter throughout the film. Sadly, it just plays as boring. Rip your eyes out boring. Go ahead and take a long bathroom break and grab some popcorn on the way back to your seat boring. There's nothing to see here folks boring. Move along.

John Wayne is turning over in his grave – or perhaps laughing uncontrollably at the weak take on the role he won the Oscar for.

This movie was a complete waste of money. Coen Brothers, WTF? Tomorrow morning I'm going to go get my $10 back.
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1/10
Boring with NO action
VivaLaGloria1819 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't reviewed anything in a long time. I've seen some notably good and bad movies but this one has a lot to be said about it. I went to this movie with my boyfriend who is a big fan of western's. I'm not as much a fan but I enjoy a good old western shoot 'em up flick every once in a while. It did look interesting and it was a remake of a John Wayne film- How could it not be good? So I bit the bullet and tagged along not expecting much but hoping to be entertained.

Let me just start with this- Its boring! Plain as that. It has long, lengthy, tedious, monotonous, redundant conversations about mundane and uninspired normal everyday things. (Such as haggling over a horse... Come on that conversation did NOT need to last 5-10 minutes).

The lead Mattie was pretentious. She was a deeply annoying kid trying to play big girl and it was frankly quite irritating. I didn't find her to be "Tough as nails" like a few people are describing her especially since when things didn't go her way she threw out the "I have a good lawyer" threat to help her out. Her performance was wooden to say the least. For a girl who's father had just died she didn't seem that upset. I'm not asking she cry her eyes out every minute but her frigid demeanor could have been broken at least once to humanize the character, who can really care about or sympathize for someone who just acts like a puppet for the director?

None of the performances are anything spectacular. Jeff Bridges plays a drunk and Matt Damon plays an overcompensating jerk. There was no real action. It was a lot talking, horse riding, arguing... The most shooting done was a ridicules scene where the drunk tries to prove he isn't wasted and tries to shoot a bottle and cornbread. The movie didn't flow well. There were long boring drawn out scenes of nothing important. And then the important scenes were rushed. There was no time to savor the victory because it was so fast and sudden. The plot was just too thin.

The very ending was a last attempt to add spice to this terrible film but nothing could save it. The plot needed to be thicker and more interesting, the characters needed more character, development and be less one dimensional, The script needed to be completely rewritten I don't even know where to begin on how bad it was and this movie just to be completely honest and blunt SUCKED.
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1/10
sad
guenzeld31 December 2010
When at the dinner table with the family some months back news came in that TRUE GRIT was going to be remade, and with Jeff Bridges, no less, the immediate response from everyone present was a burst of derisive laughter and rolling eyes.

I'm afraid seeing the film confirmed the initial reaction.

The film is rubbish from start to finish and the only recommendation I can offer is that it may spark interest in Henry Hathaway's moving and vastly superior 1969 film.

The original is superior in every way: the screenplay. direction, sets, photography, music and acting. And even if we wince a little at the somewhat inadequate performance of Glenn Campbell in the Wayne original, we wince mightily at the embarrassing histrionics of the current actors.

Not recommended at all.
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3/10
I need a shower.
M W3 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Headed by an all star cast & one new comer True Grit is the story of a young girl looking for revenge for her fathers death in 1877 Arkansas. Directed by the Coen brothers in crowd pleasing mode much more akin to O Brother,Where Art Thou? than No Country for Old Men. Which is disappointing & misleading because the trailers framed Grit more like the latter rather than the former. The performers are all there up on the screen doing what they should be but are left hanging scene after scene with nothing to do. Except walk here,babble out dialogue there & look completely lost the entire length of the movie. Admitedly the Coen brothers have done some extraordinary work but lets face it they have done an equal number of crap pictures as well. The problem with True Grit is that it sticks too close to the source material never not once taking any risk in telling this story in a way that would breathe new life into it. It also does the western a huge disservice. Im not interested in bigger set pieces & loud action set ups but seriously utilize the talent you have guys. Character driven stories are what the Coen brothers are know for but True Grit is watery & perfunctory. It seems like this version was tailor made not for movie lovers but the short attention span crowd. Those that don't recall what they watch with any more enthusiasm than eating a sandwich & carrying on. Yet the approval ratings critically commercially & otherwise contradict that & its puzzling to me. This is a pay check to all involved & Oscar bait for the studio executives. I mean the ending of this infuriated me so bad that I had to get up & leave. Even without seeing the original it was badly written but aside from that this is Rooster Cogburn man! How they summed up his story was just disrespectful proving that the makers behind this remake truly not only have no understanding of the original story or story telling in general but clearly no grit what so ever.
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