Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Review: True Grit

Caught a late show for True Grit. This is the latest Coen brothers film, which is a remake of an old John Wayne classic. While it is a remake, I'd consider it a reimagining since it feels far grittier and more realistic than the John Wayne version. The directors argue that they are trying to create a film more true to the book. Whatever their aim, it was steady and executed well. This is definitely a Coen brothers film, but it has plenty of mainstream appeal.

Coen brothers films have great characters, and True Grit delivers. The little quirky characters present in all Coen films are here too. I enjoyed the 'dentist', the Colonel and even nasty Ned Pepper. They reeked of the Coen touch. The characters that carry this film, which feels like a two person play at times, are Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn. The actors, Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges, have a good onscreen relationship. Mattie Ross is unrelenting in her desire for revenge and justice. Rooster, the experienced and questionable man of law, wants to slow her down a bit as things are wild in the old west. It is an odd pairing that with time becomes a father-daughter type of bond. Beneath the gruff and intelligent exteriors of them both lies a grieving girl who lost her father and an old man who has nothing, no family and lives behind a Chinese grocery. This brief quest for vengeance is a chance to create substitutes for what they do not have while not admitting they really need or want them.

That relationship is the core of this film. The cinematography is pretty, music is well chosen, and set design is superb. Damon & Brolin are billed stars but Damon has a very 'supporting' type part and Brolin has maybe 5 minutes of screen time. This is a good film that goes by quickly. The film is gritty, but not nearly as dark as Unforgiven. My wife and I both enjoyed this film. I strongly recommend watching it.

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