True Grit Review

Posted on March 11, 2011 by

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When it was announced that a new version (NOT a remake) of the 1969 Classic John Wayne western True Grit was being made, many people cried heresy. Or they would have, if they knew what it meant. They probably cried ‘WARHGARBL!!!’ and then passed out, foaming at the mouth. As someone who only got into Westerns a year ago, the original True Grit isn’t something I’ve gotten around to seeing yet (I’m mostly working my way through Clint Eastwood’s sizable oeuvre, and no, that isn’t a euphemism), though the John Wayne westerns I have seen have been hilarious, such as Stagecoach, and of course, who could forget his unforgettable turn in The Greatest Story Ever Told? Now, in fairness, this movie is, as I stated before, very much NOT a remake. The original True Grit was based upon the book of the same name by Charles Portis, and the new movie is simply another retelling of that book (Which reminds me, there really should be a statute of limitations on actual remakes, Highlander was only twenty years ago for god’s sake, it needs remaking about as a much as a baby needs a shard of glass shoved in it’s eyes. Or anyone else, for that matter. Except you Cecil. Nobody likes you).

So anyway, a new movie has been made. You may have noticed. If you didn’t, it’s because you’re chronically out of tune with the world, and the best solution is to seek medical help immediately. In Sweden. This new version of True Grit comes courtesy of the Brothers Coen, who, to put it lightly, make some really weird movies. I’m not saying The Big Lebowski was bad. It wasn’t. It was awesome. But what the hell was it about? Seriously? Or Burn After Reading for that matter… Anyway- the question on everybody’s quivering, jowly lips is this: is it any good?

Starring Jeff Bridges, a man who I firmly believe should actually change his name by deed poll to ‘the dude’, plays Reuben ‘Rooster’ Cogburn, a drunkard US Marshal (something he presumably had a lot of practice for in Crazy Heart, also brilliant) who is hired by the so-ballsy-she’s-probably-secretly-a-dude-under-that-dress Mattie Ross (played by terrifying girl-child Hailee Steinfeld), a 14 year old girl who wants him to track down and bring to justice her father’s killer, Tom Cheney (played by Josh Brolin who’s name is all over the posters despite only having maybe ten lines and ten minutes of screen time…). Also hunting down Cheney is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (No first name, Played by Matt ‘insert tired Team America joke here’ Damon, who’s face appears to have been badly savaged by some sort of mustache. And no, I never expected to see Matt Damon spanking a teenage girl. Maybe 4chan did, but, well…) All three of the protagonists are excellent in their own way. The drunk, the stubborn and the… i’m not sure how to place Damon’s character actually. Hm. Rooster ‘the dude’ Cogburn is a lazy, crotchety, drunken wreck of a human being with one eye missing, but he’s a moral man who despite everyone’s doubts keeps it together and gets the job done. LeBoeuf is constantly touchy, and twice leaves the group only to return at critical moments, though not always to anyone’s advantage, while Mattie proves to be the character with ‘true grit’, outwitting much older characters and overcoming incredible obstacles.

It’s weird because as far as I know this is the only straight-genre film the Coens have ever made, and for a first go at making a western (a dying art I’d love to see revived) it’s spectacularly good. It’s dark, it’s gritty (excuse the pun, I hated it), and unlike the 1969 film, it follows the book much more closely. But yeah, you know what, this is a bloody great movie. Not just good, it’s fan-tucking-fastic. It is a must-see movie. Don’t think ‘oh, it’s a western, they’re boring, I wont go’, because it’s far from boring. In fact, several people get shot. I know. Who would’ve seen it coming? Certainly not Cecil. Is he still here? God I hate that guy.

So in summary, I loved it. It’s easily one of my top movies of this year and you are seriously missing out, not just on a great story, but beautiful scenery, pitch-perfect dialogue and possibly the greatest child acting I have ever born witness to. Seriously, that girl is scary.

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Posted in: Movies, Review