Monday, December 27, 2010
I love a good western and "True Grit" is a good western. Is it great? No, I don't think so. In my humble opinion, The Coen brothers didn't need to do their own version of this film. I'm a huge fan of their work but this time out, they really don't infuse the story with their signature style. Even though they have tackled many genres, there is always something about their films that is distinctively "Coen Brothers". Their only mark on the retelling of "True Grit", is the fantastic cinematography of Roger Deakins.
Casting Jeff Bridges as "Rooster Cogburn", they might as well have called the film, "True Grunt". It's almost impossible to understand his dialog and subtitles would have been a blessing. As for his acting, he does redefine the role made famous by John Wayne but he plays it like an early ancestor of his "Crazy Heart" character, "Bad Blake". Matt Damon does a stalwart job as "LaBouf", the Texas Ranger. Josh Brolin gets top billing along with the others but his role is nothing more than a two scene cameo. The real praise must be given to Hailee Steinfeld as "Mattie Ross". Ms. Steinfeld won the role after apparently 15,000 girls auditioned for the role. The filmmakers got it right. This is her first film and she steals the movie with maturity and a natural charm.
The Coen brothers insisted this was not a remake but rather their own version of the book but if you watch the original film, you will still see that many of the scenes are shot for shot in the new version. I was hoping to heap accolades upon this film but I would give them to "A Serious Man", the Coen Brothers last film released in 2009 with an original story and better acting.