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"True Grit" - (2010) - (Wayne's Movie Review)
Wayne Klein
Studio: Paramount
Genre: Drama Release: 12/22/10
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Haliee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
The Coen Brothers

It's difficult to tackle a film that might stand in the shadow of an iconic performance or actor. When John Wayne made "True Grit" over 40 years ago no one imagined that someone else would tackle Charles Portis' marvelous, detailed and accurate novel. I'm sure Wayne never imagined that someone else would tackle the role of "Rooster" Cogburn much less deliver such a different, less heroic and more flawed portrayal as Jeff Bridges delivers in the 2010 version of "True Grit". ***

"True Grit" is an unusual movie from the Coen's; it eschews all the unusual humor, quirky trappings and references to other literary works in a straight ahead genre film. It's a valentine to the western genre and, like the previous film version (it's not a remake folks--the two films share the same source novel as a starting point BUT the Coen's film does not use the Wayne version as the basis for this--that would be a remake), a well made film that's authentic to many of the details of the time but made for a 21st century audience as opposed to a 20th century audience with differing levels of sophistication. ---

The Plot: When 14 year old Mattie Ross' (Steinfeld) father is murdered by a hired hand named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) she decides to take matters into her own hands to take him down; she hires Marshall Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges) a one-eyed merciless killer and drunk to track down Chaney and bring him to justice. Unfortunately Chaney is also being pursued by Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Damon) hunting the man for killing a senator. The odd trio agree to join forces to try and capture Chaney and bring him to justice although each has his own agenda. ---

As with all of the Coen's projects their attention to detail is remarkable and Roger Deakins' photography often breathtaking. Shot on film in Super 35mm, the often austere vistas of Texas have amazing depth and detail. The sound mix is also awesome for the film although be aware that sometimes dialogue can be a bit muffled not due to the recording but due to the performances by the actors (particularly Bridges) as he creates the cadence of Cogburn's unique accent and speech patterns. ---

Final Words:

A terrific adaptation of Charles Portis' seminal western novel, "True Grit" holds its own against the previous version of the film. Although the basic plot is the same the performances and the interpretations of the various characters by the Coen's and the actors are unique and add a flavor missing from the previous film version. Recommended.


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