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Customer Review

149 of 177 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was Hoodoo-ed by a little girl, January 31, 2011
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This review is from: True Grit (DVD)
...much the same as Rooster.

Fortunate for me, the last time I saw the original I was just a small lads and therefore felt no guilt for insufficient reverence or fidelity to The Duke. My thought going in was that it would be a good time to revisit the original version. Half way through Bridges and Steinfeld were creating such compelling characters that reading the book came to mind. By the end of it however both notions dropped away. Not now; much too soon. The zen of True Grit 2010 is aging nicely and unblended in the oak-charred-whiskey-barrel of my psyche.

This is 5 stars if ever there was one. I am admittedly a Coen-head but the juxtaposition the Coens, setting, music, and a cast of superb players creating truly unforgettable characters make this the best movie of its kind I have ever seen. I am reluctant to declare it THE best movie I have ever seen in my life but in five weeks watching it every Saturday night I can recall none to surpass it. This is where the guilt kicks in because repeat short-span movie watching is a personal taboo; I could not help myself on this one. My standing applause to all involved with this film, especially Bridges, Steinfeld, Daymon as well the fabulous complimentary cast, Mathews and Pepper especially stick out.

It is a powerful interpretation of the time and place appropriately ratcheted up for entertainment value and masterfully done. The characters range from audacious, colorful, and subtle; but all are authentic. I think there are some Faulkner-esk touches to the story. I plan to make a study of the book after the emotional attachment to the Coen version fades to a manageable degree.

Of the few knits that I have seen picked from professional critics two of them are;
Mattie was too modern and `you are not the boss of me'. I found her temperament to be commensurate with her apparent education (e.g. writ of replevin) and her objective. The event that triggered her mission would plausibly fortify an extra measure of pugnacity and independence. I saw no deviation in any of her character qualities taken collectively.

The other criticism was that the outdoor panoramas seemed washed out. I thought they fit the season; slanted and diffused winter light. That was consistent with the winter light coming in the window at Cogburn's testimony.

I ditto these insightful contributions already well articulated by other reviewers with which I fully concur;

"...the most emotionally engaging movie they've ever made, including Fargo." [the movie left me with my chest laid open as if by a scatter gun]

"...What elevates this movie from the original is the closer following of the source material: Charles Portis' novel. It isn't perfect, but the Coens portray a much darker, grittier time and circumstances." [and often times a more tragic world; I think the dirty coats, muddy boots, greasy hair, rotten teeth, and dialogue without contractions were excellent cinematic enhancements.]

"...Jeff Bridges is NOT John Wayne, and, that being said, makes a much better Rooster than John. John was restricted by what he could do as an actor acting in the time the film was made. Jeff is not under such restrictions...." [clear cut best actor of the year imo]

"...Hailie Steinfeld.... She handles the old-fashioned language well, does not suffer at all from misguided efforts to be cute or charming, and never seems like a modern kid playing dress-up, a fault I frequently find with child actors in period films." "...astonishing in her confidence and command at 13 years old of a starring role with a lot of difficult dialogue and plenty of nuance in the complexity of her character." [at one point I marveled at the authenticity of the facial expression she produced when Mattie took an insult; she will capture your heart like Dorothy in WOZ but for totally different reasons]

"...Carter Burwell's music in `True Grit' just every bit as perfectly fit the characters, the events, and the surroundings and atmosphere in this film as it did in the sweeping hit `The Alamo'" [piercing and almost haunting in its contribution] - this movie has been a treasure to me!
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 27, 2011 7:30:44 PM PST
A superb, thoughtful review. Thank you Mr. Greene. Your words do justice to this magnificent movie.

Posted on Mar 22, 2011 6:14:45 PM PDT
Mimi says:
Wonderful review, and a very accurate summary of the film's strong points.

I love that you pointed out one of Mattie's quieter moments as a boon to Steinfeld's performance. The part of Mattie has a lot of obvious punch and appeal, but I think part of what made Steinfeld acting so realized were her subtle reactions and expressions while other people were speaking, or she was just observing her surroundings. It wasn't so much she could do both commanding and vulnerable, as that she could convey both at the same time with such poignancy. As a result, Mattie had a lot of pluck, but she felt like a fully realized character and not just a novelty.

Posted on Apr 16, 2011 5:56:40 PM PDT
Atreides says:
Thoughtful review except for the Duke comment....if you recall, True Grit came near the end of a great acting career by John Wayne. Granted he often appeared in formula
Westerns and the movie Rooster Cogburn was "Bad"....but I have to resepctfully disagree with you about Jeff Bridges efforts....All Jeff did was take his previous film's main country and western character and age him a become Rooster....not
Oscar worthy IMHO, though a good try. Overall the movie was too "dark" for me, and
looked more like it was inspired by the series Deadwood then breaking any new ground.
Today's Westerns often come off as if the directors and actors are trying too hard
instead of having fun with it....I'll take John Wayne, Howard Hawks, and John Ford any time over that bunch.


In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2011 3:11:15 PM PDT
Thanks for your comments Atreides and I can't argue with you much. The movie was on the dark side which for me only contributed to the authenticity of it. The color pallet, the music, the language, and the characters swept me into a time and place that I thoroughly enjoyed. Even months after the movie I still rank it among my all time favorites and a run-away favorite of this century with acknowledgement to "Oh Brother".

I will have to stand by Bridges' performance though. There were a lot of nuances to it IMHO. The authenticity of his looks, gestures, scratches, bemusements, how he uses his hands, the naturalness of his reflecting on the past out loud, and one that many actors blow; the expression of exhaustion. Most actors overplay that and kick me right out the moment. He plays it perfectly with a guttural groan at the end which I can relate to after one of my 60 miles bike rides. Steinfled does equally as well for example when she conceals her pain but you know it is there. The only thing I would have changed would be to put some chin hair on Damon and show a little more conveyance of the cold weather from the actors (cover the head while sleeping outside and no voluntarily wading into cold mountain water).

I saw The Kings Speech the night before I saw True Grit under similar circumstances and thoroughly enjoyed and found it inspiring. But I was stunned by True Grit. I watched the Oscars for more than 30 minutes for the first time in my life in hopes that somebody from TG would get on stage. I was disappointed. I guess I need to introspect why TG resonated so well with me.

Thanks for your comment. I did perhaps fail to point out the dark, harsh, and sometimes lonely aspects to the movie. But for me that made it all the more powerful.

Posted on Jun 5, 2011 5:00:17 AM PDT
Stephen Hand says:
Thank you for your accurate and insightful comments. I have only seen the film once and am pre-ordered for the shipping of it tomorrow. In fact, checking up on it was what brought me here to stumble upon your review.
This is the only movie I ever saw that as soon as it ended I wanted to stay and see it again. Immediately. I like your weekly revisits idea, as well.
True Grit will be a welcome addition to my Coen Brothers collection and may even surpass No Country for Old Men as my favorite of their works.

Posted on Sep 14, 2011 11:56:54 AM PDT
MR BUMP says:
I Agree an amazing movie and I'm not even a western fan.

Jeff Bridges left me in awe. If Wayne was one of the greatest actors of his time then what can we say about Jeff Bridges, I can't find a word that would describe his performance, only wow!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2011 11:19:14 PM PST
Todd7 says:
Steinfeld is beyond her years, as she is quite the natural actress, and plays her role with a very strong presence. She's going to be one great actress

Posted on Feb 25, 2012 12:11:19 AM PST
Tim Himes says:
Your review inspired me to watch this film again. It's one of those rare films that seems to get better with each viewing.
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