Review - True Grit

True Grit (2010), PG-13, 110 minutes - It took a week longer than I had originally planned, but today I was finally able to see one of the movies I had been looking forward to the most this year. And it didn't disappoint.

The Coen Brothers add another excellent entry to their growing catalog of films with True Grit. The do so this time around by taking a classic western, and staying pretty true to form. There are only a couple relatively small differences between their new take and the John Wayne driven original. Having said that, this newer version stands on it's own. When watching, it doesn't play out like a complete re-hash. Credit the Coens for knowing better than to mess with the content and tone of a quality story, as well as for employing the proper cast to bring that story to life.

Excellent performances are prevalent throughout True Grit, with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld leading the way. She more than stands her ground and takes charge in many scenes. Something you wouldn't think would be very easy to do when working with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Bridges is successful in bringing a Rooster Cogburn to the screen that breaks away from the tremendous shadow cast by John Wayne. I recently re-watched the original True Grit - or maybe I actually saw it for the first time? I had no recollection of seeing it previously, but I have a hard time believing I hadn't come across it at some point during of my youth knowing our house and westerns - and my first thought was how amazingly well the roles of Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) and Rooster Cogburn (Wayne) were (Wayne did win the Best Actor Oscar for the role after all) and how could Steinfeld and Bridges possibly live up to all of the hype they had been receiving? Luckily for us, they do. Not only that, but Matt Damon throws in as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (pronounced LaBeef), and Josh Brolin (Tom Chaney) and Barry Pepper (Lucky Ned Pepper) join the fun with strong but short appearances.

If you're into westerns, or Coen Brothers films, or Jeff Bridges, or Matt Damon, or just appreciate an entertaining two hours of film, you owe it to yourself to take in True Grit. If you don't, then you probably wouldn't be reading this blog anyway.


- Bridges' Cogburn wears his eye patch over his right eye instead of his left as Wayne's Cogburn did.

- I have not read the book that both films are based upon, so I do not know how the story originally ended. I do know that I felt the ending was a bit cheesy in the original from 1969. This version differs from the original film, and I think I prefer it.

- I think Bridges really sold the drunkard aspect of Cogburn. It may have been a little over the top, but I don't remember (even having seen it recently) Wayne's Cogburn really being impaired much besides a bit of a slur.

- Generally I find myself in the group of people that feels there really isn't a need to remake a film. Although, I must admit, it usually only bothers me when the film being remade is less than 20-25 years old. The Coen brothers did an excellent job of bringing True Grit to the screen for another generation of movie goers. I may even prefer their version if only because it is a different time and movies these days have a different tone than they did forty one years ago.


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