Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and newcomer/scene stealer Hailee Steinfeld
The 2nd adaptation of the Charles Portis novel of the same name from 1968 (John Wayne starred in a 1969 movie based on the same book, but the Coen Brothers say this is solely based on the book, not a remake)
One of the highest grossing Best Picture Noms (AND film of 2010) with $161 million
Oscar Nominations- Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor(Bridges), Best Supporting Actress (Steinfeld), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design,Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
Zero Golden Globe Nominees
Rotten Tomatoes- 95% by Critics (again?!), 88% by Audiences
There’s a snake in my boot! Toy Story is… oh gee whiz, I’m reviewing the wrong film, gosh darn it! True Grit, there we go- right film in the saddle. This was a film I went to see solely based on it being nominated for Best Picture. I have tried the Coen Brothers films time and time, but they never resonate with me- I just don’t get what they’re trying to say. And Westerns… aren’t really my style. Well thank my lucky stars, it was cheap Tuesdays at the movies.
To be honest- I was pleasantly surprised by this film- it was actually quite fun and enjoyable! And- I think I got it! The Coen Brothers left their essentric off the cuff humour and style at the saloon and went more classic and crowd pleasing. From what I know about westerns, it was a good throw back to the almost forgotten genre. Dusty sets, epic pans of trees, rivers and deserts. The plot focuses around a 14 year old girl Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) set out on revenge. Her father is murdered by Tom Chaney and of course- Chaney took his gold pieces and horses as he disappeared on the sunset. Mattie hires Deputy US Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and against Rooster’s wishes, both he and Mattie set out to find her daddy’s killer. They pick up Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Damon) who also happens to be hunting Tom Chaney as well. So we follow their dusty trail adventure which is full of pleasing humour and semi-dangerous moments.
The plot of True Grit never felt truly risky or dangerous- maybe that’s what they were going for? It was more like an extended Western TV episode where the worst thing that would happen while chasing down a killer would be … a snake in your boot. I found the pacing a bit side-saddled and it made things drag. The dialogue and script is written in ‘western formal’ which was always charming, yet at times felt over the top. I laughed at the moments when I think I was supposed to be worried or concerned. I think this “gosh darn it y’all” style also let me know on some level that everything was going to work out okay.
The acting was pretty solid by everyone- it seemed like they had fun with this movie. Jeff Bridges was rough and gruff with a good heart buried in there. And he’s left with only one eye. Hailee Stienfeld has garnered a lot of attention for not only standing well against actor super stars like Damon and Bridges, but for actually stealing the scenes as young Mattie Ross. She has strict intentions and a tongue like a cactus, I’ve never seen a 14 year old so confident and clear of their goals. Especially when it’s surrounding killing your father’s murderer. We do catch a hole in this confidence at the film goes on which makes her enduring and believable.
Overall, I was surprised that I didn’t hate it- that I actually quite enjoyed it. It’s a great break from thinking and brings us a style and feel that we don’t often catch in this decade- the western. Well shot, well produced, well envisioned Western. Audiences liked it and it felt like a modern day classic. Oscar worthy… It had good buzz around the holidays, but it seems to have slipped away with the tumble weeds. Again, outside of “good western” this didn’t provoke a shock wave of intrigue or discussion. I’d be surprised if this upset any of the major awards, but who knows, there could be a snake in Oscar’s boot after all and he may go for the underdog crowd pleaser.