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True Grit movie poster

True Grit: Movie Review


Genre: Drama, Adventure, Western
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper
Released by: Paramount Pictures

Running time: 110 minutes
Year: 2010

In Short: Joel and Ethan Coen's remake of the iconic 1969 film doesn't bring much that's new to the table, but the story of Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross is still a compelling tale of the old west.

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ROOSTER RETURNS
Drunker and Dirtier and Even Grittier

He may wear his patch over the opposite eye, but when Jeff Bridges takes on John Wayne's iconic role as Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers' new version of "True Grit," it is impossible not to compare the two. Wayne won his one and only Academy Award for the role. Bridges has already been nominated for Best Actor for his performance by the Screen Actors Guild and the Broadcast Film Critics, whose picks generally mirror the Oscars (which announce on January 25), which makes it likely that he'll snag his sixth Academy Award nomination for his work.

The performances are actually very similar, for Rooster Cogburn hasn't become any less of a drunken codger in the last thirty years. Bridges steps into the Duke's shoes with aplomb and gives an equally enjoyable take on the old coot. The two films are very similar as well, despite the Coens' insistence that their source material was the Charles Portis novel, not the 1969 movie. Same source, same plot, no surprises in the new version, as the crotchety U.S. marshal joins forces with a Texas Ranger and a 14-year-old girl to chase down the man who killed her father.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit Jeff Bridges in True Grit

The Coens' new iteration is, however, dirtier, grittier and filled with cuss words — in fact, very likely much closer to the reality of the old west than its predecessor. And the new "True Grit" also features an astonishing performance by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, as the determined 14-year-old Mattie Ross. Her face is completely mesmerizing, and from the moment we meet her, we understand that it isn't actually Cogburn who is the one with "True Grit" in this story, it is Mattie. Steinfeld plays her with a naturalness that is rarely seen in actors of any age, let alone one who was only 13 when she made this, her first film. Now 14, she'd already been acting for a few years in television before snagging this role; and this movie makes her a star.

Matt Damon rounds out the main trio in this tale of retribution set against a gorgeous western landscape; his slightly preening take on LaBoeuf, the Texas Ranger, is a terrific counterpoint to Cogburn's drunken slovenliness. The rest of the supporting cast of bad guys, including Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper, give appropriately chilling performances as well.

All in all, this remake of "True Grit" is darker, dirtier and edgier than the original; but that doesn't necessarily mean better. Our advice is to see both for yourself and compare. Both are definitely worth the price of admission.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

 

 

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