True Grit (2010)

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IMDb Rating
7.6 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, a man with "true grit," Reuben J. "Rooster" Co

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(Based on 1 Rating)
MPAA Rating:
110 Minutes
Adventure, Drama, Western
Joel Coen

Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on December 22nd, 2010

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Here, again, I'm confronted with this question: When remaking a well-regarded film, is it better to stay true to the source material or to provide a unique spin on the original? In remaking True Grit, the Coen Brothers have taken the former option. This new iteration features scenes that are practically carbon copies of the 1969 John Wayne classic. And do you know what? I didn't mind it so much.

The source material is so rich and immensely entertaining that it was no doubt wise for the Coens to stay true to the original. Even if you aren't immediately familiar with the earlier True Grit, you may recognize the details: In an attempt to avenge her father's murder - by a drunkard named Chaney - 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires a U.S. Marshall to track down Chaney and bring him to justice - or, even better, to kill him on the spot.

The U.S. Marshall is Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), touted by the local sheriff as the meanest sumbitch you're likely to find. Bridges plays Cogburn as a snarling, whiskey-drenched lout who, almost despite himself, is an excellent tracker and lawman and who, alright, may sometimes lack the ability to scratch that itchy trigger finger. Though he sports an eye-patch, it doesn't seem to affect his aim.

Mattie's only caveat in hiring Rooster is that he must take her with him. He agrees, but when the time comes for them to set out on the trail, he ditches her. Mattie is so strong willed that she tracks down Rooster and, in doing so, earns his respect (or, more likely, tolerance). Also along for the ride is a Texas lawman named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who seeks Chaney on charges from out-of-state.

I shouldn't reveal much more. What I will say is that the three central performances are of the utmost importance. If Bridges, Damon or especially Steinfeld ever felt false, the whole movie would come tumbling down. But all three come through with flying colors. Steinfeld gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a girl wise and steadfast far beyond her years, who is able to encounter situations of overwhelming danger and never give them the benefit of a quivering lip. She is an astonishing discovery.

This new True Grit is truer to the novel upon which both films were based. Unfortunately, this results in the film's one major flaw, which is its ending. It differs from the original film, but is true to the novel. I think that the original film was smarter to change the ending. The ending we get in the new True Grit is formal, even verging on curt. It's not abrupt with the kind of elegance that, say, No Country for Old Men employed. Rather, it feels strikingly like a writer realizing that he has run out of paper and needs to finish the ending in the margins.

All of this does not tarnish what is, in the end, a terrific entertainment. Nor does it take anything away from the stellar central performances (if that Steinfeld doesn't get nominated, I'm gonna boycott something). It only suggests that the Coen Brothers should have maybe allotted themselves more than a year's time to turn out another film - especially one like True Grit. - Three and a half stars

User Reviews of True Grit (1)

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thanks said on Dec. 29, 2010 at 10:31pm

now compare to this:

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