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TRUE GRIT (2010)

>> Monday, January 3, 2011

As gritty as the trail to high adventure! -excerpt from the 1969 True Grit trailer.

As I sat there and watched True Grit the other night, I felt pleasantly involved. Hailee Steinfeld captivated me as the 14-year old star of the movie, Mattie Ross. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon more often then not made me smirk with their banter, and the brief appearance of Josh Brolin (who plays Tom Chaney) was amusing. Yet, I am disappointed and in some ways, I feel ripped off.

True Grit is about a young girl named Mattie Ross who hires Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) to hunt down and bring to justice the man who killed her father - Tom Chaney. Accompanying Cogburn on his search is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Damon). The three head off into the wild west bound for adventure... sort of.

The film itself, while shot and produced beautifully (one wouldn't expect less from directors Joel and Ethan Cohen), starts off slow and didn't ever seem to pick up speed for me. Even the climactic moment at the end of the film felt more like a slight pick-me-up rather than the moment I was waiting for for the last ninety minutes . While one can't deny that the acting in True Grit is top notch, I often wondered if it would actually be enough to hold the film together. For the record, it is.

I aforementioned that I felt ripped off and it's because after seeing this remake of the 1969 John Wayne vehicle, I checked out the original. Much to my dismay, the remake was made nearly shot for shot - therefore making this new version moot. Creatively speaking, True Grit didn't need to exist as it does nothing for bringing new ideas to the table. More often than not remakes fall into the failed category because the people behind the film either rely too much on the source material and follow it exactly (Psycho [1998]), or they stray too far from it and it's even worse (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [2005]). I expected more from the Cohens, but it's not the first time I was let down (Burn After Reading [2008]).

Despite this huge factor, though, I am giving True Grit an open door. It's still really well made and directed, and the actors and acting all create a very believable 19th century atmosphere. If you go in expecting a good movie, that's exactly what you'll get - good. Great on the other hand, is an entirely different thing.

*Stills courtesy of Paramount Pictures


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