Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, December 27, 2010

True Grit

One of the Coen Brother's biggest success tales was with veteran actor Jeff Bridges, when they teamed up to make the now classic The Big Lebowski. The team is back for another go around in a remake of the classic John Wayne western True Grit.

The film stars newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, a teenager looking to hire a bounty hunter to track down her fathers killer, a man named Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin. She asks around town, and the one answer she seems to get is that US Marshall Rooster Cogburn is her man, but Cogburn (played with every ounce of crotchitiness Bridges can muster) isn't interested in this little girl's problems, until she throws some money into the mix, that is. Offering him a hundred dollars (a considerable wage for the 1800's), he agrees to take on the task of tracking down Chaney. Along the way, though, a Texas Ranger named LaBeouf (played by Matt Damon), who is also hunting Chaney joins in on the search. The problem with finding Chaney, though, is that he has gotten in with a gang of dangerous men, and finding him also means having to deal with them.

The performances in this film are rock solid. Bridges doesn't even have to try to master a roll anymore. Damon plays LaBeouf with every bit of swagger, self righteousness, and self importance you would expect a law man from Texas to have, and Steinfeld gives Mattie Ross a sense of determination that one can't question. Barry Pepper is also a welcomes site as Lucky Ned, the leader of the gang Chaney has fallen into.

So, with all of these great performances, great cinematography by frequent collaborator Roger Deakins, and a solid story based on a best selling book is this movie not everything I had hoped it would be? Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable, and I liked it, but I was expecting to love it. The Coen's previous "Neo-Western" No Country For Old Men was a revelation, a personal best for almost everyone involved. So how is it that True Grit turned out to be a minor let down? I don't know... I'm glad I saw it, don't get me wrong, I just didn't have that sense of excitement and amazement that I usually get out of having seen something truly incredible, which is something I know the Coen's are capable of.

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