Sunday, December 26, 2010

True Grit [2010]

IMDb (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (3 1/2 stars) Fr. Dennis (4 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

The Coen Brothers are probably the best screen writers in Hollywood today. They also direct very well. As a result, hardly a year goes by without one of their movies being in contention for (and often winning) a host of Academy Awards.

True Grit is destined to be considered another Coen Brothers classic along with Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man along with other lesser but often hilarious hits. In each case, the Coen brothers enter and then thoroughly mine a distinct American subculture for story and (with perhaps the single exception of No Country for Old Men) for comedy. The Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit certainly fits the pattern.

Now True Grit as a movie has its own story. The 1969 version of the movie became the vehicle for John Wayne to finally win an Oscar after a legendary career. Still the 1969 version became such a John Wayne movie that the original story was largely lost. So enter the Coen Brothers 2010 film version which restores much of the original story and dialogue of the 1968 book/Saturday Evening Post serial by the same name written by Charles Portis.

A key difference between the 1969 and 2010 versions is that in the 2010 version, the main character of the story is not the John Wayne character Marshall Reuben J. “Rooster” Cockburn (played by Jeff Bridges in the 2010 version). Rather the main character is the 14 year old Mattie Ross (played in the 2010 version by teenager Hailee Steinfeld) who hires Cockburn to hunt down and bring to justice Tom Chaney (played in the 2010 version by Josh Brolin) who murdered her father.

Hailee Steinfeld plays the role so well that I hope that she gets nominated for Best Actress for her performance. She does not necessarily deserve to win, but her performance is both spot-on and hilarious as she strings together _sentence after sentence_ of dialogue in spitfire fashion that _no_ 14 year old today would EVER say, but which appears as part and parcel in any “good” pulp-fiction western novel! She is gr8! ;-)

And this makes for the principal reason why I would recommend this movie. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE ACTORS / ACTRESSES in this movie -- Jeff Bridges as Cockburn, Matt Damon as the young/rookie “Texas Ranger dandy” LaBoeuf (he's _so sweet_ in being _so proud_ of being a Texas Ranger :-), Brolin as Chaney, Steinfeld as “Mattee” – thoroughly own their roles and play them to the hilt.

I would also recommend this movie for young teenagers and especially young teenage girls. Go as a family. At 14-15 that might be the last time that going as a family would work ;-). But Steinfeld plays Mattie _so well_ that she _could be_ an inspiration to teens. Teens are often quiet and don’t say anything. Mattie is _not quiet at all_ and is able to convince all kinds of older, more experienced adults to do what she wants. And she does so, not through pouting, but through smiling and a spitfire dialogue that _no one_ could say no to.

Again, this is a great, “before your family completely grows up” family movie ;-).

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