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Worth A Look: 13.95%
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Pretty Crappy: 2.33%
Sucks: 0%

3 reviews, 25 user ratings

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True Grit (2010)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The Duke is dead; long live the Dude."
5 stars

John Wayne wasn't much of an actor, but he had that American-eagle presence that stood him in good stead until the '60s, when the eagle's feathers began to molt.

In 1969, with America's indignity approaching its peak, Wayne made True Grit and played a fat, one-eyed drunk who could still get it together to be noble. The denuded eagle had been restored, at least temporarily. Cut to 2010: the eagle has not soared for quite some time, and politicians on both sides are plucking its feathers one by one. The time may indeed be right for another True Grit, another fat one-eyed drunk showing us that redemption is hard but not impossible. And this time, there's a real actor involved.

Jeff Bridges steps into the muddy boots of Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshal hired by fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (sharp newcomer Hailie Steinfeld) to chase down the no-account thief who killed her father. Cogburn normally can't be bothered to make his speech intelligible most of it is disgruntled mumbling but Bridges, a precise actor even when playing layabouts like Cogburn or the Dude, lets us hear the sentences that matter. Cogburn drinks all day and drags himself painfully out of sleep in the morning, but he snaps into cold proficiency when he has to.

True Grit has been adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen to hew closer to the tone of Charles Portis' well-loved novel, which is told from the viewpoint of Mattie Ross. The baroquely formal language has been preserved, as has the rather eligiac epilogue: this time it's Mattie who rides off into the sunset, not Cogburn. The obvious comparison is to the Coens' Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men (that film's desperate protagonist, Josh Brolin, here gets to play a slyly tongue-in-cheek Anton Chigurh figure), but I think it would make a better double feature with the Coens' Fargo. In both, a plain-spoken female, innocent of sin but unafraid in the face of evil, pursues her quarry across grim expanses of snow. They're both essentially comedies of persistence, weighed to the earth a little by the heaviness of violence.

The original True Grit got an M rating in 1969 (the equivalent of today's PG-13), and the new version pushes the PG-13 envelope with chopped-off fingers, an assailant shot off his horse and pitching bloodily head-first into a big rock, and a nicely tense sequence involving a pit full of rattlesnakes. Still, the Coens have aimed for a holiday-season entertainment here, wrought with their usual fastidious style. (If cinematographer Roger Deakins, heretofore stupidly overlooked by the Academy for past gorgeous work, doesn't win the Oscar next February for his work here, I'm sure I won't be alone in throwing something at the TV.)

Why did the typically sardonic Coens want to make this film? A glance at the Portis novel yields a simple answer: Why wouldn't they? It offers terrific set pieces, a great ear for dialogue, and an outsize hero, a sodden eagle burping on his horse and failing to shoot cornbread in air but firing true when it counts. It's clear from such farces as Burn After Reading that the Coens don't really believe in American exceptionalism. But perhaps they would like to.

In the wide panoramic compositions of the filmmaking, the eagle soars again.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20223&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/19/10 19:21:27
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Berlin International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/30/14 The king best of the modern westerns yet 5 stars
5/05/14 Jason One of the greatest remakes ever 5 stars
11/24/13 The rock Phenomenal acting and great storytelling 5 stars
10/01/13 josephine best modern western ever 5 stars
9/21/12 roscoe BRIDGES IS GREAT, THE GIRL IS GOOD, but no attention or use of the villain = no threat. 3 stars
8/26/12 David Pollastrini A great performance from Bridges 5 stars
8/15/11 Chris F A lot better than i expected overall worth seeing again 4 stars
6/21/11 Silkworm Flakey main characters that fail to deliver 3 stars
6/12/11 Shaun A I'm not usually into Westerns. This is impressive human drama. 5 stars
6/10/11 bill o really a fumbling feminist fantasy -- yes dreary dearly me 2 stars
4/18/11 mr.mike Comes close to an unneccesary sequel. Bridges and Brolin are nearly unintelligable. 3 stars
3/11/11 cvonsca great entertainment.One of the 2011 top five 4 stars
2/15/11 forest gump Bridges might do a better drunk impersonation but not a patch on the duke. Good overall 4 stars
2/13/11 millersxing a winsome western that packs a punch 5 stars
2/08/11 Sam decent, but nowhere close to what the Coens are capable of 3 stars
1/14/11 Ronald Holst A veryy good film worth a look 4 stars
1/04/11 Andy Good Western action film..Some dialogs are hard to understand 4 stars
1/01/11 Smitty A truly great film but sometimes hard to understand Bridges 5 stars
1/01/11 R.W. Welch First half has a certain peculiar charm to it. A- overall. 5 stars
12/31/10 RK The dialogs alone are worth a second viewing. 5 stars
12/31/10 Ming Not as good as the original ..But Still love the great performance 3 stars
12/30/10 bob ruhs great!! 5 stars
12/29/10 damalc very good, but funny in places where it shouldn't have been 4 stars
12/24/10 thetachi This movie was a lot of fun. Two big thumbs up! 5 stars
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  25-Dec-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2011


  DVD: 07-Jun-2011

Directed by
  Ethan Coen
  Joel Coen

Written by
  Ethan Coen
  Joel Coen

  Jeff Bridges
  Matt Damon
  Josh Brolin
  Hailee Steinfeld
  Barry Pepper

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