True Grit Reviewed

*spoiler free*
Can I just start by saying how I hate westerns. Too much dust and tumble weeds and not enough robots and aliens. The ‘low tech’ world just gives me the creeps. It’s miracle that we ever survived the late 1800s. Since most westerns are set in the exact same town within the mid US, they all look the same. They are all carbon clones of each other, so westerns have to rely on juicy performances and compelling storytelling. True Grit does both.

This Coen brothers remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic of the same name  does a masterful job at creating characters that you fall in love with and develop a simple story that keeps you engaged. This is a straight revenge flick where its focus is about the journey than the destination. The strongest element of True Grit is the dialogue. Borrowing some from the original and adding their own, the Coen brothers provide tons of rich banter between Bridges, Damon, and new comer Hailee Steinfeld. This feels like a true period piece with references to that era and plenty of odd sayings. Regardless of the authentic visuals and outcome of the story, the dialogue alone is enough to legitimize this late comer to 2010.

Bridges, Damon, and Steinfeld form an unlikely ad-hoc family, bickering every step of the way of their journey. This trinity does an excellent job bringing their characters and turning this somewhat dark destiny into a humorous family affair. It’s another Oscar potential for Bridges (too bad we didn’t get the same effort in TRON) and it’s Damon’s best performance since Good Will Hunting. As the precocious and tenacious 14 year old, Steinfeld is probably the breakout performance of 2010, worthy of a supporting Oscar nomination. There is great tension and chemistry between the three which makes the two hours fly by.

My only complaint of the film is that the story resolution is a bit unsatisfying and the final prologue is completely unnecessary. This is not an action film but more of a study of an unusual pairing of a coming of age girl and a surrogate drunkard father figure. If you go in with a dysfunctional family drama in mind you won’t be disappointed. But even though the climax falls flat, it doesn’t sacrifice the overall experience of this well crafted genre piece- the first genre story of the Coen Brothers illustrious career.

So I loved this film despite the fact that there were no lasers, helicopters, transforming robots, or flesh-eating aliens. I guess I will have to wait till Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens :).

I give this a 4 out of 5 Babbles

By the way, if you love westerns, tell me why. I just don’t get it.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “True Grit Reviewed

  1. Chris Cheung

    hey tony,

    “its” (as in “its focus”) is the possessive form. “it’s” means “it is”. and yeah, i’ve been hearing good things about this movie. we’ll see if i like it as much as unforgiven and the outlaw josie wales…

    • Tony

      Ha ha, thanks for the correction. Actually I didn’t think much of Unforgiven till the last 3o mins but that’s just me. I can’t remember Josei Wales. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  2. Jaime

    I agree I’m not a fan of westerns either but I really liked this movie. although I thought it had slow start. however I liked that the movie had a good strong female character. I didn’t think that the ending fell flat I liked that Hailee Steinfeld didn’t hesitate at the end.

    • Tony

      *spoiler response*
      I just thought it was weird that they were chasing Brolin’s character the whole movie. When they found him, he was pretty dim witted and was quickly out smarted. The real climax was Roosters showdown with the four riders. I just think the movie should have rolled the climax into one scene where Brolin’s character meets his demise. It was too disjointed. Then the prologue was a big mess. Older Mattie did not add anything and just left you feeling sorry for everyone by the end. It didn’t ruin it for me but I wish it ended differently. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Good review, but I’m surprised/confused by your dislike of westerns.

    What made Firefly and Star Wars (New Hope) so great? Both were essentially westerns. Were they great because of stories and characters or was it simply because they were in space? I contend it was the former. Space Cowboy adds some fun sci-fi flair, but it’s not what makes the show.

    MJ

    • Tony

      Your right at FF and SW were essentially parallel to westerns to a certain degree. My existential core necessity for any movie; things have to light up. No lights, no dice. I know, I’m deep that way.

      Just kidding, yea I dunno. I like LoTRs, Braveheart, Glory, Saving Pvt Ryan, etc… but just not gaga over westerns. I do love the Dallas Cowboys- does that count. Even my favorite western, Tombstone- i can only take in moderation. If you made me sit down to watch Lonesome Dove, I would shoot myself with a six shooter in my face.

  4. Tony, I think you need to watch “Rustler’s Rhapsody” and you will understand why people love westerns, the whole film is a lesson in Westerns.

    Here is the REAL reason we love Westerns though, EVERYONE is armed, openly, and violence is expected, if not only accepted.

    • Tony

      I haven’t seen it, but I will have to check it out. Yea, carrying a gun around to settle differences is pretty cool, that’s what hooked me about Star Wars (cantena scene w/ Han) all those years ago! Thanks for commenting.

      • Tony,

        Yes, I think we need a little more of the Wild West carrying open, AHoles like that AZ jerk would have been put down on the scene!

        Also, confirmed with a friend today who read True Grit – apparently the “kicking scene” (you’ll know it when you see it) was IN the book!! I thought it was the Coen boys touch . . . but, nope.

  5. Oh, dang, my bad – you OBVIOUSLY SAW TRUE GRIT – brain fart, and I am typing this while watching Fiesta Bowl, 🙂

    So, yea, that kicking scene was right out of the book – too funny.

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