Tuesday, January 4, 2011

True Grit - Movie Review

My father was a BIG John Wayne fan. Due to that fact, I had to watch a lot of John Wayne films growing up. I enjoyed his later work the most and my three favorites are, in order; The Shootist, The Cowboys and numero uno…True Grit. I’m not a big fan of westerns, but I have watched the 1969 original many times. However, I did feel Jeff Bridges would be a worthy opponent and I was okay with a remake.

Here’s what I found interesting though, there wasn’t much difference! I’ve included the original trailer because I can’t believe how many scenes were almost identical. Jeff Bridges did a fine job, he really did. Yet, nothing gets me jumping out of my seat like The Duke putting those reins in his mouth and saying, “Fill your hands you son of a bitch!”

I was enjoying this remake. The scenes were beautifully shot and the performances were outstanding. Jeff Bridges truly was grittier, making the character of Rooster Cogburn his own, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld was a kick ass Mattie Ross. Matt Damon held his own in what could have been a throwaway role as overly proud Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf.

The pace of the film was perfect and I never found my mind wandering. I was right there with the characters watching the tension build. This film, although similar, truly was a formidable remake until the last five minutes.

Now I certainly don’t want to blow anything here, but I will say that I felt cut off. I did not have a satisfying ending like the original provided. Look, sometimes there’s a good reason why you veer from a book. A movie is a different beast and I have to agree with the original changes the filmmakers made in 1969. The Coen Brothers basically had the same movie right up till the end and if they wanted to be truer to the book, I’m fine with that, I just don’t feel they did a good job of it. For the reputations they have, the ending felt thrown together for me. I would like to have these two movies stand alone, but really they didn’t change the story very much at all and if you’ve seen them both I’d be happy to tell you an alternative ending that I think could have worked better.

This film was worth seeing. I think Colin Firth will snag the Best Actor Oscar this time around, but Bridges will get and deserves a nod. I’d love to see Ms. Steinfeld receive a nomination, even though it’s going to Natalie Portman for Black Swan. So maybe I shouldn’t compare at all, but when you take on The Duke, it’s kind of hard not too.

One other tiny thing about this film bothered me. If you’re really looking for gritty authenticity, everyone, with the exception of maybe Mattie, would have had some messed up teeth. I’m just saying.


Lin said...

I love how thoroughly you reviewed this movie without giving too much away. My husband has been dying to see this movie & I've been a bit hesitant cause I've heard nothing compares to the original. However, I may just give in this weekend & go with him based on your review :)

Colleen said...

I hope you come back and tell me what you thought. Over the weekend I re-watched the original on AMC. The are both great films and I'm not a fan of westerns.

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed in the ending. It seemed to end too abruptly and I found Maddie to be very a staunch uptight spinster, unlike her character in the movie when she was young.
I don't think the Marshal would have gone on to be in a wild west show.