Movie Review: TRUE GRIT (2010)Paramount

“You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.”

Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, a man with “true grit,” Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her “grit” tested.

I normally don’t watch straight-up westerns. Usually, the genre would have to have a healthy dose of sci-fi or horror mixed in to get me interested. That, or Clint Eastwood. That guy’s just awesome. So, it’s rare that I would actually plop down money to go see a straight-up western movie in the theater. It was the matinee pricing, but still.

When it came to this remake of the John Wayne classic True Grit, there were two things going for it: it was a Coen Brothers joint, and it starred Jeff Bridges. Still, I held off for a few weeks after it was released…because it was a western. Yeah, yeah, terrible person I am, being all comfortable with my personal movie preferences. How do I live with myself?

Anyway, not being familiar with the original movie, beyond that it’s lauded as one of John Wayne’s finest performances, and that he was playing against his usual type of movie character – and that he wore an eyepatch – I really don’t know just how this remake holds up to the classic. Neither do I care. I’m just getting that out of the way, as I’ve had a lot of people ask me if it’s as good as the original since watching this version. I also don’t foresee myself watching the original any time soon. And that’s enough talking about that. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

As a whole, I found True Grit to be rather enjoyable, a good way to spend an afternoon with the guys. Good period piece settings, the story kept me engaged with just a bare few minor lagging moments, and it’s gritty without going overboard, I thought. The main thing that made this enjoyable was the cast. All of them were fantastic, from the main actors down to the very minor characters. Jeff Bridges is a joy to watch here as the grumpy and perpetually drunken Rooster, and whenever he has to go off screen or there’s a scene without him, it makes me sad. Matt Damon as LaBoeuf as the polar opposite of Bridge’s Rooster works well. Very amusing moments with those two together. The big surprise, though, was the performance of Hailee Steinfeld as the 14-year-old with a vengeance streak. Surprise because the actress is actually 14 here, but she gave a much, much more professional performance, holding her own against Bridges, Damon and the other actors that spice up the story. I honestly thought they got a younger 20-something to play the part, until I did a little research after watching this. Very impressive.

Overall, I found this True Grit to be enjoyable. Good story, great cast. Hasn’t made me want to watch more westerns, but I can think of worse things to do on a weekend afternoon.