Monday, January 3, 2011

"True Grit" has a solid cast and a compelling script, but shy of perfection: B

The last time I ventured out of my cave to see a Coen movie, I was sorely disappointed. “No Country for Old Men” wasn’t really my cup of tea, despite all of the rave reviews. The pace was the problem for me, as most of their movies tend to be slow-going and ripe with self-importance. “True Grit” was a slight improvement on the standard Coen formula, but not without some imperfections. If it wasn’t for the excellent cast and the brilliant screenplay, I doubt this movie would’ve been worth its weight in gold.

“True Grit” is a story of revenge, redemption, and enlightenment. Young Mattie Ross (played superbly by the talented Hailee Steinfeld) seeks a man with ‘true grit’ to hunt down the jerk-off who killed her daddy. She’s pointed in the direction of Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a worn-down U.S. Marshal with a smart mouth and a belly full of booze. The odd couple meets up with a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) and the three embark on a journey to hunt down the murderous outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).

The relationship between Rooster and Mattie is the central focus of the movie. Rooster has no intention of being a baby-sitter, and he’s surprised to find that young Mattie holds her own. She has a sharp tongue and she means business. Rooster, on the other hand, doesn’t have much faith in the mission and tends to fool around on the trail (particularly, a humorous scene in which he and LaBoeuf have a shooting contest). The trio gets into their fair share of trouble, and there are a few moments when things take a really bad turn.

As far as action goes, there are only a few scenes that make you a bit anxious. The trailer is chopped and cut to make the movie look like a rootin-tootin’ Western, when in reality it’s a slow character drama that takes its sweet time. Be prepared for some disappointment in the last leg of the movie, when Tom Chaney meets his fate.

Now, the film itself is quite beautiful. The landscapes and woodlands are indicative of the period, as well as the detail in the script (the language seems appropriate for the period). I really enjoyed the way everyone spoke, which might sound silly, but it’s really difficult to paint such a vivid picture of a time in history without the characters speaking in accurate lingo.

*Also, I need to mention that it was nice to see Barry Pepper again! I think he’s a great addition to the movie, or any movie for that matter, and I hope he gets more work.*

Here’s the bottom line on “True Grit”: The acting was flawless, the script was great, the cinematography was impressive, and the story was emotionally fulfilling. The lack of action and realism along with the sorry, half-assed ending sort of disappointed me, but not enough to give this movie a bad mark. It’s worth watching!


  1. This is on my list to watch. Thanks, mom :-)

  2. I have to agree with your rating--overall, the cast was TIGHT and the script was Coensy and lovely, but I would've been happier with a little more action. Not to say character dramas aren't lovely. They are. It just would've moved the plot along quicker.


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