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3.9 out of 5 stars
True Grit [DVD] (2010)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I suppose the simplest way to describe this movie would be to say it's a remake of the John Wayne version with all the sentimentality (not to say camp) drained out. Whether you think that makes it more enjoyable than the original depends greatly on what you're looking for in a movie.

John Wayne has been, beyond question, in some outright great movies, and he makes the earlier version highly watchable basically by just doing his John Wayne thing throughout. But his very best movies have got something more, and personally I think he often did quite a bit better than "True Grit." (Best of all in "The Man who shot Liberty Valance", where his John-Wayneness is shown to epic advantage by the terrific compare-and-contrast performance of James Stewart.)

Not even Jeff Bridges can really make up for not having John Wayne in a Western, but for my money (YMMV and I don't blame you) this is a better film in every other respect. In particular, Hailee Steinfeld does a great job of making the 14 year old avenging angel Mattie Ross actually believable (no mean feat when you stop to think about it.)

Comparisons are odious. Watch both! (If you watch the JW version first, you'll have the bonus of picking up some sly homages in the later version, too.)
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2011
It's a rare occurrence when I sit through a film so utterly engrossed that I have no criticisms of it at all. But True Grit managed that feat. Which makes the plethora of negative reviews all the harder to understand.

Beautifully and atmospherically shot (with a slight fairy tale quality), it also boasts engaging performances from Jeff Bridges, a hard to recognise Matt Damon and especially the young Hailee Steinfeld who is totally captivating. Most of the film's charm is due to her precocious self-confidence.

I've not seen the original, so can't compare, but I urge you to ignore the poor reviews here, see the film and make up your own mind.

And all this from someone who doesn't usually like the Coen Brothers!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2011
Watched this terrific Coen Bros remake - back to back with Waynes original movie , its now my second fav Coen bros film ,and just behind my fav ,which is Fargo

Love both the True Grit films ,and this TRUE GRIT remake is fantastic ,it definitely does the original justice - and then some , its perfectly cast , and all the actors are magnificent in there roles ,it's funny in places , sad in places ,and has some great moments of suspence and action

Some of the most memorable lines from the original movie are back , but one line that was left out ,that I would like to have seen left in - was when Mattie says something about Cogburn definitely having True Grit / when Cogburn on horseback single handedly charges the four other cowboys near the end of the movie - just felt it was far too memorable a remark ,and shouldve been kept in ,and I felt that the final shootout scene was a bit more epic in this remake , there's also some great new scenes in this movie ,I also felt that the end few scenes brought more emotion out of me in this one - than they did in the original film , the end is changed slightly in places , but it works really well

A must see western , and one of the best classic movie remakes EVER - period
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2011
Definitely the best film I've seen this year. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon both play outstanding roles, with without doubt the star performance is by Hailee Steinfeld.
If, like me, you have fond memories of the original film with John Wayne and Kim Darby, and are worried that it might be just a pale re-make - don't be. It's a brilliantly scripted, directed and shot film that stands up in its own right.
It deserves a place on anyone's one-to-watch list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2011
It's uncertain whether Joel and Ethan Coen set out to make their most commercially successful film in a 30 year career by electing to remake the classic John Wayne Western True Grit as their 15th feature, however it has been by far their biggest grossing domestic picture to date, taking twice as much at the box office than their previous Oscar winner No Country For Old Men which kick-started their partnership with Paramount producer Scott Rudin a few years back.

Having never been much of a Western fan, aside from the superior 'Spaghetti' variety of Sergio Leone especially the "Dollars Trilogy" which propelled Clint Eastwood to international stardom, I wasn't the first in line to see this new version despite it being the latest offering from the Coen Brothers. Admittedly, I tend to prefer their original comedies but I was intrigued to see this primarily for the acclaimed performances of Jeff Bridges as 'Rooster' Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross both of whom earned Academy Award nominations.

When her father is brutally murdered in Fort Smith, Arkansas by the cowardly outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), 14 year old Mattie Ross comes to town to collect his body and hire a U.S. Marshal to track down the killer and bring him to justice. Out of the Sheriff's recommendations she selects 'Rooster' Cogburn as he has the reputation of being the most ruthless. Mattie is exceptionally astute for her years and has a commanding knowledge of the laws of business enabling her to run rings around the local inhabitants outwitting them in a series of trades over her late father's effects, raising sufficient money to bankroll her revenge.

There aren't that many structural differences from the Hal Wallis production, both are true to the spirit of the Charles Portis novel. Jeff Bridge's Cogburn is clearly a cold-blooded slayer and a broken man; much less avuncular or amusingly soused than John Wayne and without his immediate warmth or charm. Hailee Steinfeld is the same age as her character and despite her smarts she is obviously still a vulnerable young girl, whereas Kim Darby was 21 when she played a hardier, tomboyish Mattie Ross in the 1969 original.

Although the biggest difference in casting is Matt Damon in the role of the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf who hopes to claim the bounty out on Chaney for killing a State Senator. The part initially played by country singer Glenn Campbell was very much a cameo whereas the Coens have transferred a lot of the affability from the Duke's take on Cogburn to Damon's LaBoeuf making him more sympathetic thus transforming the story from a basic two-hander into a more complex triangle.

The Blu-ray edition reveals the huge visual accomplishment achieved by the Coen Brother's regular cinematographer Roger Deakins. The colour palette is distinctly different to the previous version which was bathed in California sunshine so typical of Westerns made at the time; instead we have bitter cold, steely blue skies starkly contrasted with delicate snowflakes. The 1080p picture sports faultless clarity and high detail particularly noticeable in hair and skin tones, whilst the DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack crackles with the ambient sounds of the great outdoors, wind and water are well represented and the surprisingly few gunshots deeply resonate.

It's also worth mentioning Carter Burwell's disarmingly simplistic score which riffs around the two spiritual tunes "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" and "Lean On Jesus" which were first used to striking effect in Charles Laughton's classic film noir The Night of the Hunter, clearly a massive influence on the Coen Brothers. There is a small selection of fairly standard extras the one exception being the 30 minute documentary Charles Portis: The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of... which profiles the life and work of the author and compares both film versions to the original text.

True Grit is a milestone picture for the Coen Brothers that not only provides them with their first unabashed box office hit but demonstrates an assured maturity and artistic commitment which is no longer confined to the low budget obscurity that prevented so many of their significant early films from reaching justifiably larger audiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The original True Grit was a superb vehicle for John Wayne and it's centred on his persona.It has a lot of spirit and you suspect Wayne enjoyed making it and he rightly garnered an Oscar after a lifetime of making westerns.That film captured the beauty of the wide open landscape and really zipped along.The Coen brothers have taken the subject of the film from the original novel by Charles Portis,fleshed out the salty,idiomatic speech patterns, focused more on Mattie Ross's perspective.In addition, it was shot in settings more typical of the novel. (The 1969 film shot in the Colorado Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, while the 2010 film was shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as Granger, and Austin, Texas.)

The novel's narrator is Mattie, which got totally lost in the original.She has the "true grit"of the Old Testament and she finds it matched by Rooster Cogburn's more worldly,lethal "true grit".Mattie like a religious Huck Finn goes forth into a pit of hell full of blood and rattlesnakes to gain vengeance on the man,Tom Chaney, who killed and robbed her father.Mattie(Hailee Stenfield)losing her innocence has to pay a high price to pursue the wicked:"I would not rest easy until that cur was roasting and screaming in hell!"The film captures the novel's spirit-Cormac McCarthy with laughs.Mattie is an avenging fury.This will affect the rest of her life.

The Coens movie is stronger than Hathaway's by fully re-engaging the western,aided by the cinematography of Deakins,the historical accuracy,but also by its greater weirdness:Mattie cutting down a corpse,the pitilessness of the wider world outside Fort Smith,the post Civil War atmospherics,the silencing of the about-to-be-hanged Indian,the passing of the buffalo,the Indian relieving them of the corpse to trade with,the mountain medicine-man dressed in a bearskin,the madman in Pepper's gang with his maniacal gobbles and squawkings,Mattie sleeping in a coffin.We could be in The Outlaw Josie Wales in spirit.

Bridges Cogburn is meaner than Wayne's,but as heroic and his gruff hide-"I don't believe in fairytales or sermons or stories about money,baby sister" and he seems to desert her- has a protective core.He threatens LaBoeuf when he whips Mattie. LaBoeuf ,the dandy Texas Ranger is far better served by Matt Damon than Glen Cambell.Brolin plays Chaney as an evil psychopath.The music has spirituals in it like `Leaning on the Everlasting Arms',which recalls Night of the Hunter,especially with the story's final desperate ride with its macabre,swooning fairytale elements of sweeping stars.The Coens restore the scripture-sprinkled narrative,the introductory voiceover and coda, her complex feelings towards Coburn are more mysterious. Revival of the classic western,.centred through a female psyche,with Steinfeld amazing,all the male actors serving her portrayal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The real star in this movie is clearly Haliee Steinfield. The characters portrayed are exaggerated and unrealistic, bordering on unbelievable and cartoon-ish. This adds to the enjoyment of the film. Haliee as Mattie has developed a level of knowledge and maturity that most people don't achieve in a lifetime, let alone in 14 years. There are certain characteristics of background people that make things interesting. For instance the undertaker tells Mattie on two separate occasions that it is okay for her to kiss a corpse, then later tells her it is okay if she wants to sleep in the coffin. Is the undertaker a borderline necrophiliac? The Texas Ranger LaBoeuf talks about kissing Mattie, then later spanks her. Is he boarding on pedophilia? Then there is the grandmother who snores. There is the traveling doctor wearing a bear's skin, including the head. He practices taking teeth out of dead people. It is these details that makes the movie interesting and quirky.

Rooster Cogburn, the man Mattie hires to pursue her father's killer, proudly served with the infamous William Quantrill, a group of Confederate raiders which history has portrayed in a negative light. Mattie is obsessed with revenge, but not to the point where it consumes her so she can not think.

The humor is dry:

Mattie: Why were they pursuing you?
Rooster: I robbed a high interest bank.
Mattie: That is stealing.
Rooster: Umm. That is the position they took in New Mexico.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2013
As you may have encountered before the digital copy of the film has expired as of june 2012. I did finally get around this by trying clicking on another films title (that hadn't expired) and then inserting my disc in itunes to bring up True Grit and code entry. The usual routes its just says sorry expired. I don't think Paramount give out new codes just by asking (Warner Brothers has quite a good reputation for example) so was quite relieved by this. Just wanted to name and shame Amazon for listing this as a triple play when it clearly isn't anymore. There should be a way for consumers to see the expiry date online. Great Film of course.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Well, I've seen both films several times and read the book, so here goes.
For me, westerns are like sci-fi films, they say more about the period in which they were made rather than the period that they are depicting. This is definitely 'grittier' than the John Wayne, but that alone does not make it a better film, just a different one. Jeff Bridges is excellent, althogh it is true his accent is very difficult to understand some of the time, but perseverence brings rewards. Matt Damon is ok, Hailleee Steinfeld is very good (and should have been nominated for actress, not supporting actress, as she is clearly the lead charecter in this version, as well as the book).
As to it being more faithful to the book than the previous version, this is not true. It has the book's ending, which the John Wayne film does not, but there are truncated scenes, and missing ones (the part in the book where the deal is made at the start, for instance, is mostly missing), and some other scenes are altered (such as LeBoeuf going off before Maddy meets Chaney, which the John Wayne version has the same as the book). In all, however, it is a very good film, and so is the John Wayne one, neither are rubbish and it is churlish of anyone to say so.
The book is outstanding, however, and I would recommend it to anyone.
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