Monday, September 12, 2011

Film Review: True Grit (2010)

Following my general love for well done, modern Westerns I knew I had to see this film.

I am not the biggest Coen brothers fan, having enjoyed No Country for Old Men, but not others of theirs I had hoped for a more straightforward telling here and I was rewarded.

The overall level of violence in the film is kept at a bare minimum (not that I have an issue with that, just that this film wasn't "Coen-ized" with shocking violence as some of their films contain) and remains about as formulaic as a Western can be.  You pretty much know how things will go in the film from frame one, though this doesn't detract from enjoyment of the film at all.

The Coen brother's knack for filming beautiful outdoor scenes is apparent here as well.  The shots of the riders in the snow and also in the dry, bare limbed forests of what is supposed to be East Texas or West Arkansas are stark and clean almost to the point of wondering if it was computer generated.

Jeff Bridges puts forth another solid performance here as Marshall Cogburn, similar in its gruff, drunken, old man nature to his role in Crazy Heart.  Hailee Steinfeld however is the true standout and the one who carries the film on her diminutive shoulders.

Her time here as the bull-headed, avenging, Protestant-Presbyterian Mattie Ross is wonderful.  Though one doubts that ever character could exist, Steifeld is forceful enough while still maintaining the vulnerability of youth that every 14 year old should contain that a suspension of disbelief is possible.  As a character Ross is smart yet a bit naive and not, as so many modern films portray precocious youth, an adult trapped in a child's body--this is no "old soul".

Josh Brolin is fine for his ten minutes of screen time while the remaining characters are all fine if unremarkable.

Lest you think that the Coen's have thrown in with the mainstream of Hollywood film making they do leave enough strings hanging at the end to keep you pondering long after the film is over, allowing you to ruminate upon what the final passages uttered by Ross, "Time catches up with us all", mean and why, she never again saw Matt Damon's character LaBoeuf (who is not nearly as "gay" as most reviewers would have you believe--more a Texas showboat and self aggrandizer than gay cowboy).

I don't know that I'll ever go back and watch the 1968 version of this film with John Wayne but I doubt that I would enjoy it more than this one.

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