Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TRUE GRIT (2010)

Joel and Ethan Coen, 2010
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin

Over the years I've gotten a lot of flack for my dislike of and disinterest in the Coen brothers. When I went to see True Grit earlier today, I realized why. Their films, technically speaking, having nothing wrong with them. They are interesting, pleasantly eccentric, and well made. They are also almost always throwbacks to older, classic films and in this case True Grit is a direct remake of the Charles Portis' novel from 1968 and the John Wayne film from a year later. Yet, for some reason I still don't enjoy these films. I feel tired when they're over. I haven't learned anything, I haven't connected with any of the characters and I haven't felt any emotion at all except for occasional humor for 90+ minutes. This is how I feel about all of their films and it holds true for True Grit.

Young Mattie Ross ventures out on her own to hire a US Marshall to hunt down the man who killed her father and bring him to justice. She settles on Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed, dangerous derelict who spends more time drinking whiskey than being an unshakable pillar of the law. Texas Ranger LaBoeuf also joins up with them, as he is hunting the same man for different crimes in Texas. Mattie is determined to come along to make sure her money will not be wasted and her father's killer will be brought to justice. Things, of course, never seem to go as planned.

My favorite thing about this film is that Jeff Bridges plays his own Rooster Cogburn, one who has little to do with John Wayne. Wayne's Cogburn is one of my favorite characters in the later Westerns, bringing a humor and warmth and Bridges steers away from. The acting in general is very good. From the intense, up and coming Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, to the funny and weirdly adorable Matt Damon as the Ranger LaBoeuf, everyone is decent. No complaints there. Great visuals, solid Western, good soundtrack, blah blah blah. And somehow I still feel unaffected and uninterested.

I was pleasantly surprised that the film was better than I thought it would be, which means nearly everyone else is destined to love it. Check out the single disc DVD from Paramount. There are still many other new Westerns I'd rather go watch, starting with The Proposition.

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