19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2011
typically, westerns are not the genre of film that i would usually steer towards, but this film has changed my outlook and opinion completely. True Grit is essentialy central around the theme of redemption and companionship and shows that a decent film can arise from a fairly straightforward storyline. i initially watched this due to its universal reception and was not disappointed and upon the release to home media i purchased the blu ray format which made the experience even more fantastic.
specifically on amazon, there seemed to be an expression of dissappointment, with claims that the original was far superior. because of this, i saw the original, which was good, however i feel that this remake was in every way an improvement, especially in terms of Hailee Steinfeld who delivered a fantastic persomance for a debut role. I understand that the original was something to try and develop and improve on but without letting the streghth of it could my judgement i feel that this version deserves a solid 5 star rating.
this really is timeless and the Coen brothers have delivered once again a brilliant, enjoyable and memorable film, i would reccommend this to anyone (specifically on blu ray format), even if you're not a die hard fan of Western, please do not let the 3.5 star rating put you off, you won't be disappointed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2011
This seemed typical Coen Brothers, the movie moved along at an even pace, rarely hitting a crescendo but offering enough to maintain interest. Overall, it was well acted, especially Hailee Steinfeld who gave a great performance. My main gripe was trying to understand Jeff Bridges who was incoherent throughout - maybe he was playing the role too well. It was a good film, but I was left feeling a little disappointed particularly as there was such a strong cast involved.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I have to start by saying `True Grit' is another excellent film from the Coen brothers. Some of their films can miss the mark, but when they get it right they hit the target dead on and with full force.
This film follows a 14 year old girl called Mattie as she goes about finding the man who murdered her father. She is quick thinking, highly intelligent and full of sass. She hires the grizzly old Rooster Cogburn (played by Bridges) to help her in her endeavours and together they make an unlikely, but effective duo. There are also interactions with a Texas Ranger (played by Matt Damon) and gun fights and horse chases a-plenty.
The dialogue in this film is excellent and some of the lines Mattie and Cogburn come out with will have you roaring with laughter and appreciative of their eloquence. This film has quite a gentle pace and yet this is juxtaposed with the odd gun fight which adds the needed spark to the film.
Everyone acts very well in this and I adore the accents of all involved. Damon is great as the self righteous Texas Ranger and Bridges is simply wonderful as the time worn and hardened Cogburn. I haven't seen Hailee Steinfeld, the actress who plays Mattie, act in a film before, but I have to say I was highly impressed. The direction is superb, with plenty of artistic shots of the wide landscapes that will leave you breathless and the gun fights and scenes with drama and action are tight and full of excitement.
Overall I have to say I enjoyed this more than I anticipated I would and it made for just under 2 hours highly entertaining viewing. It's easily a film you could watch more than once and I am already looking forward to the next time when I will.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2011
True Grit is a fantastic poetic film from the Coen Brothers. Set in the old west it follows a fourteen year old girl Mattie (Hailee Steinfield) whose father has been killed in cold blood by outlaw Chaney (Josh Brolin). Mattie seeks retribution and tracks down hard-drinking, trigger happy Deputy U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges)a man with 'True Grit'to find Chaney and kill him. Along the way they are joined by Texas Ranger LaBouef (Matt Damon)who has been pursuing Chaney for other crimes.
The films plot is told and played out in a unhurried manner and character development is given priority over action and tempo which is a refreshing change to most films.
Jeff Bridges is brilliant in his role as Cogburn, but for me the star of the film is Hailee Steinfield who steals the film.
I would highly recommend this film and if you have any doubts about it being another western film or being a remake of the awful John Wayne movie then don't let those things put you off.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2012
Everything from the costumes, the set design and the ingrained dirt on the clothing makes this film feel very authentic, and draws you in to Mattie Ross' (a standout performance from Hailee Steinfeld) world. I loved watching the relationship between Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) develop and unfold, as a gruff but affectionate bond buids up between the two of them. The action is drawn out, but this is what makes the film tick - there's not constant gun-toting action but some good set pieces that build up the drama and help with the story's and characters' narratives. I loved this film, and can't wait to watch it again.
60 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
This story begins with a narration; a woman reminiscing about when she was a child and how she hired a US marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt down and kill the man who murdered her father. We then quickly go into flashback and the hunt begins, with Texas ranger LaBoeuf joining Cogburn and the girl on their quest.
Best you know now that the hunt takes a while before it begins. And that it begins at a slow pace. And that it generally keeps a slow pace throughout. The Coens are in no hurry to catch the killer; they are more interested in the posse following after him; how they interact with each other and, consequently, what we learn about them - information we retain until it matters.
This is not an action film as some people who criticise it seemed to think before watching it. The Coens like characters. They like to put them in close-up and have them snipe at each other. And they like beautiful wide shots. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is perfect as always and needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. The film is very true to the book upon which it is based and the book perfectly suits the Coen's style.
When the periodic action does come in the style of a set-piece, it is masterfully handled; always with tension and panache, sometimes with humour, only once with extreme violence. But you are aware that conversation is allowing action to intrude, often briefly, rather than the other way round
The best thing about the movie was the acting of Hailee Steinfeld who plays the determined 14 year old girl, Mattie Ross. You hang on her every word in the first part of the movie as she pushes it single-handed with her crisp, confident delivery and amusing refusal to be fobbed off or cheated by anyone.
Matt Damon really shines as the windbag ranger from Texas; a character you can really believe in and laugh at at the same time.
Jeff Bridges as the one-eyed drunken marshal, Rooster Cogburn, is great as he always is, but be warned, his southern accent is so strong and he mumbles so much its often quite difficult to understand what he is saying. Being from the UK I missed a lot of his best lines, but it never hinders comprehension of the plot which is as basic as they come anyway
The minor parts are all played well, especially the villains, but don't expect too much screen time from them. The opening narration makes clear that the whole film is from the girl's point-of-view. We aren't going to see any bad guys until she does, and then, only what she sees and knows.
In summary, be prepared for a beautiful-looking, slow-moving, well-acted, dialogue-heavy, often quirky Coen Brothers Film. Above all be prepared for, what is, in the end, a truly moving story. For it is not until the last 10 minutes that I realised what it is really about and I wondered if I should have known it all along. Like the characters I became so wrapped up in the importance of the quest to the exclusion of everything else. At the end of the movie I was reminded of the John Lennon line 'life is something that happens to you when you are making other plans.' Just like that line, this film has stayed with me.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2011
I haven't seen the original "True Grit" version starring John Wayne so I won't comment on any similarities or differences in the two movies. I have read that the Coen version is truer to the novel on which the two movies are based.
The story begins as Mattie Ross (Haillee Steinfeld) arrives in Fort Smith, Arkansas not long after her father has been murdered there. It is thought that she is merely collecting the body but this is no ordinary fourteen year old. She is determined to avenge his death by bringing the murderer to justice. He is thought to have escaped into a nearby Indian territory and the local sheriff has no interest in pursuing him.
He suggests that she hire a US Marshall to help her. She chooses Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), the Marshall with the most ruthless reputation. The youngster is determined to accompany the Marshall in the pursuit. Their cause is complicated by the presence of a Texas Ranger (Matt Damon) who has been pursuing the same man for a murder he committed in that state.
The Coens are nothing if not consummate filmmakers and "True Grit" is another well crafted, entertaining film from them. It is quite conventional in many ways. The characters of Cogburn and Ross are revealed us in two set piece scenes near the beginning of the movie. We see Hattie playing hardball as she negotiates with a trader over her father's affairs. Cogburn's modus operandi is shown as he testifies in the trial of one of the few men he didn't kill during a recent pursuit.
The film is ultimately about the characters rather than the plot. Almost all the characters are shown in a sympathetic light, even the "bad guys". For that reason the film could be accused of being sentimental
However the excellent script, direction and acting means that, sentimental or not, "True Grit" is a highly entertaining film.
on 24 February 2012
Based on the novel by Charles Portis, the story harks back to a time when ethical coinage like 'loyalty' and 'retribution' had real, hard value. Out West, a fourteen year-old girl sets out to avenge the murder of her father. She is undeterred by the apathetic cynicism that she comes up against on one hand (personified by the Jeff Bridges character, Rooster Cogburn) and by a more impersonal 'it's-in-all-a-day's-work' mindset on the other, as shown by the Matt Damon character, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf.
In part, this is about the energy and idealism of youth, as it tries to rouse the slumbering conscience and the better nature of the adults on whom she must rely to catch the culprit. But it also traces the process whereby these men find their way back once again to the path of decency and respect for what they know to be right, as they find that they cannot let the girl down.
For my liking, there is a tad too much cork poppin', whisky swiggin' and incoherent ramblin' on the part of Jeff Bridges and I became a bit bored with his staggering and fulminating. I thought John Wayne gave a more convincing interpretation of Rooster Cogburn in the seventies' rendition of True Grit. I found this Mattie Ross, played by Hailee Steinfeld, an altogether more compelling and convincing character however and I would have liked seeing more of this pleasing actress. Matt Damon likewise has a small role to play as Texas ranger LaBoeuf and regrettably he never gets a chance to really portray his character with much individuality, which I found something of a waste, given what we know of his talent from the Bourne Trilogy.
Of course the subject is bleak, for the landscapes and situations shown are correspondingly bleak. The body hanging from a tree along the wayside and the senseless stabbing murder of a young man in a shack spring to mind. Thanks to fine direction by the Coen Brothers (of No Country for Old Men fame), the whole does hang together and its tensions produce a strong dramatic charge.
I'm a big fan of most Coen brothers films, probably all except the rather pointless and ineffective 'The Ladykillers' have many good points with some ('Fargo', 'No Country for Old Men') bordering on brilliance, but after my Curate's Egg judgement of their last film, 'A Serious Man', I had started to wonder if the Coen brothers had lost their way.
And so, with some trepidation, I watched this latest effort on Blu-ray which afterwards, it has to be said, left me distinctly under whelmed. I was all prepared to put finger to keyboard and proclaim as much in my planned review but, aware of the potential trouble I could be letting myself in for (many had the same opinion of me about 'A Serious Man' but most seemed to praise 'True Grit' to the hilt) I decided to give it another chance, with an all too-soon repeat viewing; my opinion of the film has changed for the better......
I bought the 'Triple-Play' edition of the Blu-ray and can confidently say that the HD presentation is noticeably better than the DVD, especially as far as the picture is concerned. I'm still undecided about the advantages of having the film in 3 different formats, but the digital copy is a definite bonus for playback on my notebook computer when away from home.
'True Grit' has of course been made as a film before, the previous 1969 'version' (both are based on a novel of the same name) being most notable for starring John Wayne - however, I have never watched it properly as the snippets I saw never really attracted me. Mentioning the previous film is pertinent, as I have heard much argument from esteemed 'authorities' that despite the Coen brothers declaring their version to be based solely on the book (and stated as being 'written for the screen' by them), there are apparently occurrences in this newer production that reflect occurrences in the previous film but do not appear in the book - hmmm. Anyway, since I've never watched the earlier film I can't involve myself in such arguments....
The plot of the story is quite simple: In late 1800s America, a 14-year old girl named Mattie Ross takes it upon herself to get hired-help to capture the notorious villain Tom Chaney, who is responsible for having just killed her father. She is intent on seeing Chaney face the full force of the law, with his execution being the ideal result. She employs a slovenly, but apparently quite 'successful', US Marshal named Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn who she plans to accompany on his journey to track down and apprehend Chaney. Initially apprehensive about the proposed task, Cogburn finally agrees to do the job but has his own plans about how to achieve it, which differ somewhat from what the young girl expects.....
I may not know much about the earlier film, but what I can say is that both films give star-billing to the actor playing the Cogburn character. Indeed, artwork of the 1969 version names the lead cast members but only features the face of Wayne; whereas the Coen version gives equal-billing to Jeff Bridges (Cogburn), Matt Damon (Texas Ranger 'La Boeuf', who is also in search of Chaney) and Josh Brolin (Chaney) but does add Mattie Ross to the picture at least.
Having watched this newer version, I can confidently say that BOTH formats are entirely misleading, as it is Mattie Ross who is the main character (the book cover only features a picture of her), because the story is essentially about her, her character provides the only narration to the film, she appears in every scene and in this Coen brothers version the actress who plays her is the undoubted star.
If I haven't been clear enough already, this film belongs to Hailee Steinfeld (and her character) and I find it quite staggering that her name doesn't even appear on the feature artwork. For me, Steinfeld dominates what we see and hear, even when the so-called 'stars' are also on-screen; the fact that this is her story only emphasises that point further. Her performance is quite superb, which surprised me even more when I discovered that at the time of filming she was actually the same age as her character - I really thought she was more 'mature' and was having to play someone younger. Yes, Bridges and Damon are very good (Brolin hardly features, making his star-billing all the more surprising) but I have now concluded that my second-viewing of the film changed my opinion of it for the better because I ignored the Hollywood-influenced 'aspect' (ie billing according to who got paid the most), and concentrated more on the Mattie character rather than being 'distracted' by the Cogburn character played by the 'star' actor. I appreciate that films have to entice viewers by the cast, but in this case it is to the detriment of the true star and in my opinion it adversely affects how you perceive the film as a whole.....
Now the film itself. The production values are of the normal excellent quality you would expect from the Coens, with authentic locations (the featured-town is a modified existing town rather than an outside studio set) and a plethora of period features. Despite much of the action occurring in the open country, I don't think that the cinematography (by the as usual, Coen-favourite, Roger Deakins) didn't feature as much of the clearly magnificent landscapes as it could have done. I obviously have different opinions about the filming, as a related production featurette on the disc makes great play of a slowly-expanding landscape shot for example, which to me was no where near as impressive as claimed....
Thankfully, what we do get are lots of obvious Coen 'influences' in the form of some quite marvellous verbal exchanges (unsurprisingly, all featuring the Mattie Ross character !) and quirks. For example, there is a delicious bartering 'argument' between Mattie and the trader who is yet to supply some horses to her now dead-father, and later on a short scene featuring a passing-by 'medicine-man' who is as weird as weird can be. There are also, of course, lots of scenes involving the antics of Cogburn - which are often amusing but occasionally felt slightly contrived, like the lightweight-filler 'biscuit shooting' competition between him and La Boeuf. Contrary to the comments of lots of other reviewers, I had no problem at all understanding the often slightly-garbled speech of Cogburn and actually felt that Bridges mastered very competently the variations in his likely comprehensibility which were, as far as I could see, dependent on his state of inebriation ! There are also several small parts involving some very well outlined 'unsavoury' characters, one of whom we regularly view from below, looking up into his disfigured/mouldy mouth.
As hinted at earlier, on Blu-ray this film looks very good. Occasionally I got an impression of over-exposure from the picture, but that was really to do with the extremely bright sunlight/surroundings rather than dodgy camera work. The level of detail in each shot is superb, with every hair or blade of dried grass being defined. Similarly, the mostly dialogue-driven soundtrack is rich and clear - but it does feature regular injections of guitar-based music courtesy of a score by Carter Burwell, which I have to say all too often remind me of the musical 'pluckings' which featured in the 'sheep-herder' film 'Brokeback Mountain' I think....
As usual, no Coen commentary but there are quite a few production featurettes, with only the one detailing the transformation of the modern town to reflect the 1800s set being of any interest.
The 'True Grit' story is quite simple, but is well told in this Coen brothers effort. The Blu-ray presentation is all one could expect from the HD format but, most importantly, once I ignored the misguided cast 'emphasis' and watched the film for a second time I appreciated it for what it really is: a heartfelt and supremely well acted study of how a young girl deals with her recent bereavement. Now I've understood the film that way I can download the digital copy to my notebook instead of preparing to sell the whole Blu-ray package on a well-known auction site, which was my plan after the first viewing !
on 1 October 2011
Do you remember the good old days before Hollywood became obsessed with remaking old films? If you do then you have a selective memory. The classic version of The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart was the third time it had been filmed. More often than not re-makes are underwhelming, whatever calibre the makers have. The Coen Brothers may be darlings of the film critics, but their version of The Ladykillers was soundly panned - and rightly so. Therefore the landslide of Oscars that No Country For Old Men earned the Coens wouldn't have erased fears that taking on the John Wayne classic True Grit could end in tears.
The story is simple enough. A young girl engages the services of crotchety old lawman Rooster Cogburn to hunt down her Father's killer. Jeff Bridges takes on the role of Cogburn, with his rambling, barely coherent drawl acting like a background rumble that permeates the soundtrack. The performance captures the arrogance, pig-headedness and indignity of a great man gone to seed, without forgetting that there is still a great man in there. Cogburn is also a fully functioning character within the drama rather than just a scene stealing Oscar-bait turn.
The film pivots around Hailee Steinfield's performance as the vengeful daughter. She received an Oscar nomination and critical adulation for her confident, fast talking performance. The early scene where she runs rings round a local tradesman is a joyous example of youth trumping experience. Before we get too carried away it's worth remembering that MacCauley Culkin did a similar thing in Uncle Buck. In the end talented young actors often excel at assurance.
Elsewhere Matt Damon is reduced to cameo role, which given the number of blockbusters he heads up shows the esteem the Coens were held in. The conversational riffs on machismo are reminiscent of the drunken conversations on the Orca in Jaws. This balance of humour and pathos combines with a refreshing light touch on character flaws - there is no clanging moment of awareness or redemption to make it all feel like a cheap cornball tale. The stately camerawork and interesting wardrobe choices call to mind the last great western - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. It may not justify the heretically poor re-makes that all too often clog up the multiplexes, but True Grit reminds us that not all re-makes should be tarred with the same brush.