True Grit (2010)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
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Overall Rating 76%
Overall Rating
Ranked #493
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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" Cogburn. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and adventure on the journey, and each has his or her "grit" tested. --TMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 26, 2010
Say what you will about Joel & Ethan Coen but they very well might be the most consistent filmmakers of the past three decades, as they have demonstrated time and time again. Even the weakest of their films -- and most place films like "The Ladykillers" and "Intolerable Cruelty" in that company -- are better than most of the mainstream crap that funnels out to theatres on a yearly basis. Don't believe me:

Blood Simple
Raising Arizona
Miller's Crossing
Barton Fink
The Hudsucker Proxy
The Big Lebowski
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Man Who Wasn't There
Intolerable Cruelty
The Ladykillers
No Country for Old Men
Burn After Reading
A Serious Man

That is a pretty damned impressive slate of films. And, why I don't hold the same zeal for beloved Coen classics such as "The Big Lebowski" and "No Country for Old Men", I still love a majority of their films and considered "A Serious Man" likely the best film of 2009. So I was thrilled when I heard they were remaking the classic Western drama/comedy "True Grit". Normally I would cringe at the thought of a remake but, with the Coens attached, there was no doubt in my mind that they would craft something truly remarkable. And that they did.

Most folks will remember the original film starring John Wayne, the film for which he won his only Oscar. Was the award deserved? Not really when you look at his competition that year. He was, essentially, playing the same character he always played. It was more of a gift for his years and years of cinematic service. So, when you consider that, yes he deserved it. But you couldn't help but watch that performance and wonder what a more technical and skilled actor might do with that character. Enter Jeff Bridges, formerly The Dude.

The plot of the film is simple. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) had her father killed at the hands of an outlaw named Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin). She wants revenge. She seeks the assistance of Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a one-eyed drunk Marshal who has a knack for killing anything he goes after. They are accompanied by a Texas Ranger named LeBeouf (Matt Damon) who has been tracking Cheney. The film is about their adventure (as Mattie calls it) to track down Cheney and get justice for Mattie. Did I mention that Mattie is only 13-years-old? There's that too. There are numerous other supporting characters in this film, including Barry Pepper in a terrific turn as Ned Pepper, and they all add exquisite assistance.

This was such a different film for the Coen Brothers to make. It's rated PG-13 and is one of the least violent films of their career -- maybe the least violent. They have made a classical Western and done so with such a feel of homage and respect -- they basically molded their vision and talents to make something traditional instead of taking something traditional and molding it into their style. What has resulted is the most mainstream picture of their careers and a real testament to their film making powers. Along for the ride are regulars such as Roger Deakins on the camera and Carter Burwell on the score.

As a keen lover of Westerns, I couldn't have been more thrilled with the picture. In every aspect. Jeff Bridges is dynamite as Cogburn and totally does his own thing with the role. Matt Damon steals the show in his role and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is just terrific as Mattie. But as amazing as the performances are, this film belongs to its directors. "True Grit" is a modern-day Western masterpiece and even better than the original. It's the best overall Western I've seen since "Unforgiven". Thank God for the Coens! 10/10.
Griffinheart #1: Griffinheart - added December 29, 2010 at 12:46am
Just saw this tonight. The ending was a tiny bit lacking, but the dialogue was top notch (as were nearly all of the actors).

Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added June 11, 2011 at 1:46am
Haven't seen Berry Pepper in a movie in quite a while. I'll admit with Griffin that the ending seemed a bit fast, but the rest was good. 9/10
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