True Grit

The western genre is one that I’m not familiar with. The extent of my classic western knowledge boils down to High Noon, and The Searchers.  Of the modern westerns, sure, I’ve seen 3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Appaloosa, but that’s about it. Although, I did learn quite a bit about the genre from Movie Moxie’s latest podcast. I’ve decided not to review the Coen brother’s True Grit since so many of my fellow film critics said it better than I did. I will say that I enjoyed the film. I thought Jeff Bridges was excellent. So was Matt Damon. But I thought Berry Pepper was the stand out. I was not, as so many others were, so impressed with Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. I thought the violent scenes showed the precision and diabolical calculation we’ve grown to expect from the Coens, and I wanted more.  I think that there could have been much more. I wanted a movie with real grit, and I can’t help but think this may have been more my thing in the hands of Sam Peckinpah.

Here are what some of the sites I follow had to say about True Grit:
From The Ludovico Technique (full review):

It’s just a shame to see the Coen Brothers abandon their tenacity and hard-edged cynicism in favor of folksy charm. With True Grit, they’ve made an accessible, spunky little western-comedy that’s as beautifully composed and formally presentable as they come – it’s also about as empty as those glass whiskey bottles that a scruffy Rooster Cogburn so casually discards.

From Not Just Movies (full review):

Just as the filmmaking duo put Cormac McCarthy’s anti-thriller on the screen with remarkable fealty, they adapt Charles Portis’ novel faithfully, more faithfully than the 1969 film starring John Wayne. Portis’ book is a light read, enjoyable but sprinkled with contradictions it never addresses. In sticking to the letter of the novel, the Coens transpose those issues and undermine them without turning the material against itself.

From The Dark of the Matinee (full review):

This movie takes those Coen-isms and dots a grim and classic tale with them. In many ways it contains touchstones of all their greatest films, while still being very faithful to the source material. While flawed, the resulting tale of payback is a sobering look at a desire for justice the law cannot provide, and the sort of damage it can do to a person’s conscience.

From Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob (full review):

Still, the third act wasn’t a complete waste. Unlike No Country, there were some redeeming factors in its finale. And the overall film was definitely worth seeing. Between the writing and humor, the good cinematography, and the (mostly) great acting and directing, True Grit is a fine western. Was it my favorite western I’d seen this month? No, but it wasn’t the worst, either. I say it’s pretty far up there in the most enjoyable, though.

And of course, from Manohla Dargis from the New York Times (full review):

[The Coens] have been surprisingly faithful to the tone and idiomatic tang of Mr. Portis’s novel, perhaps because its worldview suits their ironic purposes. The whiskey-soaked Rooster still likes to “pull a cork,” as he does in the book, and the Coens and Mr. Bridges get into the boozy spirit of things with slurs and pratfalls.

What did you think of True Grit?

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  1. […] For another opinion, see Blake’s review (which includes links to a few other reviews) of the movie on the blog Bitchin&…. […]

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