Monday, January 24, 2011

movie review: True Grit

True GritThe backstory: True Grit is nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best  Supporting Actress, Hailee Steinfeld, and Best Actor, Jeff Bridges.

The basics: Based on the novel by Charles Portis, True Grit, is not a remake of the John Wayne version of the film. It is a new adaptation and true to the gritty roots of westerns. Young Mattie Ross ventures to the big city to claim her father's body and vows to get vengeance from the man who murdered him.

My thoughts: I used to freely admit I didn't like westerns. I thought they were outdated and sexist. After seeing True Grit, I'm woman enough to admit it: I like westerns. True Grit is a delightful mix of modern and classic. Hailee Steinfeld is a revelation. Yes, she is just as bad-ass as she appears in the ads, but the true beauty of her performance are the times she shows her fear and vulnerability. She is fourteen, and she looks fourteen, she mostly doesn't act fourteen. Her courage is admirable, as well as somewhat reckless, but you cannot help but root for her.

Matt Damon, hilariously costumed as a fringe-loving Texas Ranger, is a delightful match for Hailee Steinfeld. The two engage in rapid fire dialogue worthy of Aaron Sorkin. His character could easily be one-dimensional, but his small, supporting role contains immense nuance. He plays LaBoeuf with an impressive mix of bravado and contrition.

The one weak spot for me: Jeff Bridges. It pains me to say it, but his enunciation was so horrendous almost half of his dialogue was unintelligible. It got better as the film went on, but if I were at home, I would have turned on the closed captioning.

The verdict: Despite my foolish misconception that I didn't like westerns, I loved this film. It was a fascinating journey with fantastic acting and crisp dialogue. There was adventure and intrigue in Mattie Ross's tale. The lawlessness of the country seems almost dystopian to my modern sensibilities, and I was surprised how much I loved this film.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 110 minutes
Release date: It's in these theaters now
Source: I paid to see it at the Spectrum Theatres

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  1. Your passion for this film has made me want to watch it. I haven't seen a Western before, but am hoping this will convert me.

  2. With my Dad loving Westerns, I grew up on this stuff and did watch and like the original True Grit. I'm sooo sad that Jeff Bridges wasn't up to par for you! I heart him:) I still definitely want to see this movie though! I'm glad even a non-western movie lover still loves it;)

  3. I absolutely loved this movie too! The girl who played Mattie Ross was amazing - great review!

  4. Caught True Grit this weekend, and also loved it. Bridges + Coens + Damon + stunning performance by Hailee Steinfeld = HUGE win.

    At first, I had a problem understanding Bridges - but got used to his crusty annunciation. I thought that as a great part of his character.

    The one weak spot for me was (SPOILERS) the ending. WTF!? So, she got bit by a snake, Cogburn rescued her. And then she went to look for him years later. But he was already dead. Um, okay. That was pretty uninteresting....

  5. I haven't seen the movie or read the book but I do want to do both! I love a strong female character.

  6. I loved this movie...even Bridges, and I'm not normally a fan. My favorite line was when he said he was stuck with a harpy in trousers and a nincompoop.

  7. I was thinking this wasn't for me, but you've made me rethink that.

  8. YAY...we do want to see this one; glad u liked it.

  9. I'm definitely planning to see this one. I'm disappointed to hear that Jeff Bridges was hard to understand in the film. I hate when I have to turn on the subtitles on the DVD to understand what the characters are saying! I saw the old version with John Wayne and will look forward to seeing this new one.


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