Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, Scott Rudin Productions
Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Dakin Matthews, Paul Rae, Domhnall Gleeson, Elizabeth Marvel
Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) murders the father of spunky 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) who then hires alcoholic U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help her exact revenge. Well, Rooster, a one eyed (wears a patch) fat man is better at whiskey and lounging around than hunting bad men, but when Mattie informs him that she’s been told he has “grit” he sets out to find Clancy and bring him back for $100.00. They run across a Texas Marshall named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is on the same quest for Tom Chaney. Danger and adventure follows them all the way as the true comedic hatred of Rooster and LaBoeuf is hysterical, and Mattie is a quick witted as either of the other two and a match for them both. Chaney better high tail it out of there, cause this posse ain’t givin’ up anytime soon.
True Grit, the original came out in 1969 which was the year I graduated from High School. I remember the hoopla of the film and it made John Wayne even bigger in our eyes. The original was a classic, so why would anyone want to try to outWayne, Wayne??? And who’s going to succeed with a rip-roarin’ western in 2010? Well, the Coen Brothers made all the difference in this film. Also Jeff Bridges put John Wayne out of his mind, and did a crotchety old philosophizing man hunter of his own that isn’t anything like The Duke. And as a result, at no time in the film are you comparing the two. Duke played it way differently, and to Bridges credit, he came up with a whole new character that is very outstanding. He completely deserved all the accolades he got for his performance in this film. Matt Damon, on the other hand does not have a lot to live up to. Come on! Wichita Lineman Glen Campbell may be able to put out some milquetoast quasi country songs in the 70′s, but an actor he wasn’t. So Damon is spared the need to compete, and he pulls of the smug self serving Texas Ranger perfectly. He never stops reminding everybody how hard it is to live in Texas. and how soft they have it in Arkansas. The rivalry between LaBeouf and Reuben Cogburn is hysterical. Also they appear to have gone back to the book, and did not try to copy the original exactly, much to their credit. Of course the story is very familiar, but some things are different. LaBeouf’s outcome is changed in this version.
Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is excellent as the “wise beyond her years” 14 year old. Kim Darby was ok in the original, but came off a bit old for the part. Hailee is nearly perfect and some of her negotiating skills make my head spin. She’s a real character. All in all this is a rollicking fun western from the old days that did well in the main stream. If you somehow missed it in the theater, now is the time to catch it on DVD or BluRay or however you prefer to take your movies these days. It’s a modern throwback to the old days when movies were bigger than life, and some of the cinematography in this film is out of this world. The famous scene late in this movie where Rooster races back with snake bitten Mattie for help is stunningly filmed. This is the iconic moment in the film, I suspect, and a great deal of attention to doing it wonderfully was paid. This is not a film to miss.
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