Thus, a movie review: True Grit.
Now, my husband and I are HUGE John Wayne fans. Even though I felt a twinge of disloyalty to the Duke for even considering seeing this movie, I was intrigued by the commercials: the clips looked good, interesting even. So, for a fun adult evening while everyone is still on vacation, we ventured out with my sister-in-law and her husband to see True Grit, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I have to say that the Coen brothers kept enough of the story and character personalities to stay true to the original, but changed or added just enough to keep it interesting.
14-year-old strong-minded Mattie Ross hires U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, a man with “true grit,” but a drunkard, to apprehend Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father. Chaney has fled into Indian Territory and Mattie maneuvers to accompany Cogburn on the trip. Along the way they meet up with a Texas Ranger also trying to catch Chaney. Personality clashes, the fight for survival, and the final showdown with Chaney make for an entertaining and dramatic story.
I didn’t expect to like Jeff Bridges’ take on the iconic Rooster Cogburn character, but I did. He was as curmudgeonly and irascible as John Wayne, but allowed himself to be more seedy and debauched. He seemed to BE the character. (*sniff* Sorry, Duke!)
Now, Mattie….Well, here’s the thing: I haven’t watched the original True Grit in a long time because Kim Darby as Mattie just annoyed the hell out of me. As my husband points out, she was supposed to be annoying, but I counter that it’s a completely different matter to have a major character so annoying that it keeps someone from watching the movie, period. The remake is interesting in that it’s told from her POV and she is more fiesty and determined than annoying. I definitely liked newcomer Hailee Steinfeld in this role.
Matt Damon, as the principled Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, reacts to events without the constant complaining that characterized Glen Campbell’s performance in the original. Damon is just a superior actor and it shows.
Josh Brolin plays Tom Chaney as a not-too-swift outlaw and you could really see it on his face as he’s trying to work out in his mind what this confusing Mattie creature is saying to him. Fun to watch!
Barry Pepper was unrecognizable as Ned Pepper and had a couple of very short scenes that nevertheless were memorable.
The film has typical movie dialect, English with southern accents and a few colloquialisms thrown in, but with a twist: I didn’t notice any contractions when the characters spoke. It lent a slightly more formal, more authentic, sound for the time period and added another layer for those of us who notice such things.
(Something I just learned after writing this review was that True Grit was first a novel and the opinion out there is that the new film is truer to that novel than was the original film. Interesting, no?)
So, my personal opinion is that the new True Grit is a wonderful movie that stands up well in it’s own right.
But I still miss John Wayne.