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5.0 out of 5 stars
A Superior Western, 25 Mar 2012
This Coen Brothers Western is a wonderful film and superior to the older film starring John Wayne.
Although the earlier, Henry Hathaway film was definitely good, the Coen Brothers film is definitely better - in just about every way, if fact. Acting, cinematography, script, and score are all clearly superior and fit in better, for example.
Importantly, though, the Coen Brothers' version has an artistry, atmosphere, and themes the original lacks. It captures the lonely feel of the West uniquely well, has a darker, more human feel, and is more consistent - coming together into a tighter, more cohesive film that makes more sense. It is more exciting and we feel more attached to the characters, and their relationships are more fleshed out. The characters in the Hathaway version are strangely lively, which clashes with the story's "grit" theme. There is a comic element, in fact. The characters in the Coen Brothers' version are realistic and believable. The are serious and have emotional depth. Their lives are not easy, and they reflect their difficult experiences. They have grit.
The climax in the Coen Brothers' version is much better, and the end is much more powerful. The Hathaway version had a somewhat inconsistent script, while the Coen Brothers' version has a solid script. Overall, the Coen Brothers' True Grit is a much more polished film.
The Coen Brothers claim it is another adaption of the book, but not a remake. This claim is upheld by the strong differences in character, plot, and style between the two. Also worth mentioning is that the Coen Brothers' version is more faithful to the book, which, in this case, results in a bolder story with more integrity. It also provides their version with additional justification, as a reasonably accurate version of the story is now available on film.
This is one of the great westerns and one of the Coen Brothers best films.