True Grit: Punishment Comes One Way or Another (2010)

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Adventure, Drama, Western

Jeff Bridges returns to the big screen in a remake of a classic John Wayne western story. True Grit follows the attempt at retribution of Mattie Ross as she pursues her father’s murderer. With no one else willing to give her the justice she seeks, Ross partners up with a US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, who seems to have some demons of his own. Assisted by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, they set out across the countryside in pursuit of Tom Chaney and the gang of outlaws with which he now associates.

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Rooster Cogburn), Haliee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross), Matt Damon (LaBoeuf), Josh Brolin (Tom Chaney), Barry Pepper (Lucky Ned Pepper), Ed Corbin (Bear Man), Elizabeth Marvel (40-year old Mattie), Dakin Matthews (Col. Stonehill)

The original with John Wayne, Glen Campbell and Kim Darby is considered a classic, but this newer version matches the essence of the original and adds a cast that exhibits all of the harshness and justice of the wild west. The star of the movie is Hailee Steinfeld, whose portrayal of Ross captures the viewer into her inner torment of the loss of her father but entertains viewers with her quick wit and strong will. She delivers line after line of pure gems. Bridges on the other hand has provided us with this quality performance before, most notably in Crazy Heart. He plays the down and out former star/hero who needs another chance to show his stuff. Matt Damon comes off a little odd at first but helps to provide a change of pace to the fatherly relationship that develops between Ross and Cogburn. Josh Brolin’s portrayal as the villian seems pulled straight out of the vigilante character he played in Jonah Hex, but with a bit more polish.

The Cohen brothers have produced one of the stronger remakes I have seen in quite a while. The story combines the harshness of traversing the frontier with the pain and agony of struggling with trying to recover from a significant loss. The script writing for this story was a strong combination of clever witty remarks and a true understanding of the simpler way of life of the frontier cowboy. Even someone who does not generally like westerns should be able to feel the connection to the characters and enjoy the dialogue.

I am one of those people who generally do not like westerns, but this one truly pulled me in. The great acting, storyline and dialogue makes this a definite Oscar-worthy film.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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