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True Grit

Submitted by Commandrea on December 22, 2010 – 2:15 pmOne Comment
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True Grit starts out with a biblical quote and just like the source, Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name, the movie remains true to the spirit of the book right down to its narrator, Mattie Ross, recalling the story through the wisdom of age. This is the second version of True Grit and as helmed by the Coen Brothers actually adheres closer to the beginning and end of the novel than the original film, which starred and won John Wayne accolades.

Wayne, Glen Campbell and Kim Darby (Google her, she’s a dead ringer for Justin Bieber) played the leads in the original; here that trio is composed of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and strong turn by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as Ross. TG 1968 also had small turns from actors like Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper, and TG 2010 likewise features familiar faces in tiny but crucial roles such as Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper ironically playing a character named Lucky Ned Pepper. Damon’s a Texas brush popper and Bridges likes to pull a cork.

There are a couple of incidents the Coens, who also wrote and edited the movie, add to the journey but overall True Grit unwinds like reading the book. You’re immersed in a world of desperados, horses, and frontier law as seen through the scope of a young girl. A kind of coming of age tale with a righteous, arguative and stubborn princess goading two competent if flawed knights of the Old West on a rapidly escalating bounty hunt.

There’s still a touch of eccentricity to the characters a la Coens (check out the  antiquated speech patterns) and they work smoothly bringing out the best of their usual collaborators (in particular Roger Deakins, cinematography, and Carter Burwell, composer). Notably True Grit offers the kind of warm direct nostalgic feelings found in the best westerns.

- Michael Bergeron

One Comment »

  • Patrick says:

    “check out the antiquated speech patterns…”
    Totally. I loved that line about Damon’s character “spilling the banks of English.” Is that antiquated or is that Coen (or maybe Portis) brilliance?
    I also appreciated the cigarette rolling tutorials. Turns out my makings were too dry.

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