Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kiss My Grits

Directed by ETHAN and JOEL COHEN

I didn't have high expectations for 'True Grit,' despite the good reviews, as the Cohen Brothers can be hit or miss for me. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. The new True Grit film was surprisingly sincere. Done in the same spirit as several other successful western remakes, including Appaloosa and 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit gets it right. I love a good western and True Grit did not disappoint.
Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges
The movie is not unique or original, but it's solid. True Grit differs from the 1969 film and appears to follow the novel more so than the original film. Fourteen year old newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld, portrays Mattie Ross and she steals the show. She delivers her dialogue quite well for someone so young.

Ed Corbin as the Bear Man in True Grit
Plot: The film is narrated by Mattie Ross who at the time of the narration is age 40. She tells the tale of the murder of her father by the ruthless, yet simple outlaw, Tom Chaney, played wonderfully by Josh Brolin.
Although Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) is only 14, she does not let this deter her. She tracks down and manages to hire the meanest (and subsequently the drunkest) U.S. Marshal she can find to track down Chaney, Rooster Cogburn (amazingly played by Jeff Bridges). She hires him because he is known as a man of "true grit." At first he rebuffs her, but eventually he relents. We're not sure if he truly feels bad for her or if he just needs the money for drink.

Another wonderful character is soon introduced, Texas Ranger La Boeuf (played by Matt Damon). La Boeuf is also in search of Chaney, as Chaney is wanted for the murder of a state senator in Texas. He proposes that he and Cogburn join forces in order to find Chaney. Mattie won't hear of it. She wants Chaney to hang for her father's murder, not a state senator's.

Intent on joining him on his quest, Mattie tries to meet the Marshal in the morning only to find that he's already departed in search of Chaney without her. Instead the Marshal meets up with La Boeuf. La Boeuf and Cogburn come to a gentleman's agreement that they will split the Texas bounty on Chaney and return him to Texas.
Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon
Showing some true grit of her own, Mattie tracks down the Marshal and La Boeuf beside the river. They've already ferried across with the help of the ferryman. As the ferryman won't assist her, she crosses the river on horseback at great peril to herself. Sensing her complete determination, the Marshal allows her to join their posse whereas, La Boeuf is irritated with her presence on the trail.

At different points in time, La Boeuf separates from the posse, going his own way. However, the three of them eventually come back together. Over the course of the film, they experience various adventures and encounter marauders, including "Lucky" Ned Pepper, played by one of my favorite actors, Barry Pepper.

The film meets it's ultimate conclusion with the apprehension of Chaney, in addition to a series of unfortunate events.

One item to note is the look of the film is beautiful. The sets are extremely detailed, as are the characters. The film itself manages to encompass the beauty of the American west.


1 comment:

  1. I liked the movie a lot. I loved it up until they had an older actress playing Mattie. After 90 minutes with the younger actress (who I agree steals the show), I just couldn't connect with this new actress. The result was that I didn't feel much during what was supposed to be a poignant scene.


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