True Grit Review

Published 4 years ago by

true grit review True Grit Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman Reviews True Grit

For anyone concerned that this review will spend a lot of time comparing the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit to the 1969 original, you’re in luck – it’s been many years since I watched the one with John Wayne, so you’ll be getting a “stand alone” review of this latest film.

It’s a simple story: The daughter of a murdered father in the Old West is out for justice against the man who did the deed – but with an unlikely protagonist… a 14 year old girl. The girl enlists an old, rough-hewn man of the law to help her track down and capture the villain. It’s a character-driven film and its success or failure rests fully on the shoulders of these two characters.

Thank goodness the Coens chose Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges as the shoulders on which to rest this responsibility.

Hailee absolutely rules the screen as young Mattie Ross. She’s brash, overly confident in order to be taken seriously, and someone not to be messed with. While some might find her annoying, I found her to be an absolute joy to witness on screen and was sad whenever the movie veered away from her to focus on other characters. Jeff Bridges – what can you say? The “dude” rules. He owns the role of Rooster Cogburn here, without a doubt. Old, crotchety, weary and wise – it’s all there and he wears it like a comfortable old leather jacket.

Matt Damon plays LaBoeuf, a straight-laced, by-the-book, proud Texas Ranger. He’s there to add a touch of humor to the film, and while I’m sure many will disagree with me, next to Steinfeld and Bridges I thought he really paled in comparison. That’s not to say he wasn’t good in the role – it’s just a case of a small candle juxtaposed against two roaring fires. Having said that, I did warm up to him towards the end of the film.

The killer who is being tracked throughout the film is named Tom Chaney, and we have no idea who our heroes will be up against when they finally meet him. He’s painted alternately as a canny villain and as a not so bright run of the mill criminal. When we finally meet Josh Brolin in the role, the way he plays it is an interesting combination of both.

Now I don’t usually begin reviews with breakdowns of the actors/characters, but in a film like this it’s all about them, and frankly they’re so rich that they will be what you remember about the film more than anything else after you leave the theater. It’s not just each character, but the interplay and dialog between them that makes True Grit a rich experience. The scene where Mattie negotiates an experienced shop owner into excruciating, painful submission is worth the price of admission just on its own.

As to the rest, the Coens have delivered what can only be called a classic Western. You won’t find any “cool” camera angles, no quick-cut, hip editing here – just simple, classic direction. Considering what’s out there today this is a breath of fresh air. Beautiful vistas, sets, costumes, gunfights and cinematography that feel genuine to the era – the Coens just did a damned good job here. If there’s one complaint from me, it’s that I enjoyed the first half of the film (which was much more Mattie/Rooster focused) than the second half, where more characters came in and took away from the screen time of those two wonderful actors and their characters.

At the end of the film, I felt genuinely disappointed that it was over – and I’m here to tell you I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about ANY movie. True Grit gets a big, big recommendation from me.

Here’s the trailer for True Grit:

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Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. wow im really surprised how this movie is being applauded,this movie sucked barely had any action,the acting was good but other than that this movie was boring

    • It “barely had any action”? Is that your main criteria for whether any movie “sucks” or not?


  2. Amazing

  3. Vic please lets all forgive Jose shall we, when one not knows what they speak of they sound a fool like an oldman who’s had to much to drink, Let Jose enjoy the new Transformers and “US” real cinema lovers can bask in all the greatness that is True Grit…. boring?!?!? Jose step your vocab up and remember not every movie is gonna have non stop action and hot half naked women (nothing wrong with that that) but to call this movie boring just show’s the lack on knowledge you have

  4. Let me start with this… Im a big fan of westerns, I love Clint’s Spaghetti’s and I love JW, True Grit is one of my favorites when I heard there was a remake coming out I was excited, when I heard it was Jeff Bridges playing Rooster I was even more excited, the closer it got I was less excited… I went to see it last night and here are my thoughts. I’m 45, I’ve loved JW movies a long time, JW had a way of delivering lines with a comedic way and a body language that very few could and I think that is what made him who he was, he stood alone! I am aware of the critical reviews his movies recieved and as Charles Bronson once said “we dont do movies for critics because they dont pay to see them anyway” Jeff Bridges did OK, imagine for a minute playing the part of Rooster Cogburn today if you were anyone else, imagine trying to do that. Even with all the negative reviews back then imagine trying to do it, yeah! Jeff Bridges made this movie stand on its own two feet for two hours an 8 minutes, Matt Damon dissapeared in his character which was a really nice thing to see, if you see the movie you will understand. There were scenes in the original that made the movie stand out, Rooster shooting corndogers while drunk being one of them, the Coen brothers changed that scene, I hope out of respect for JW who made that scene happen… I’ll buy the DVD, it was a good movie, Jeff Bridges did a fine job with this but I have to say when it comes down to it when I want to see True Grit Ill still pull the original. However I will still say thanks to the Coen brothers for bringing back a truely great classic to the big screen for all of to see once again!!! you did a great job

  5. I really like your reviews, they are concise and to the point. Well done.

    Can’t wait to see True Grit… gotta love a good western.

  6. Why the remake? Because the ‘Coin’ Brothers think they can do anything and be anything like Howard Stern…Until they ruin someone’s life like David Arquette’s…!

  7. I thought the move was good, but not great, though it did have several great lines to quote. Next time someone tries rushing me out of the bathroom I’ll be sure to holler “there ain’t a clock on my business!”

  8. I don’t even like country/western movies, but this movie was just amazing. 5/5 stars for me

  9. I guess I’m just not into westerns or something, but I practically fell asleep during this movie. The plot was slow, I couldn’t relate to any of the characters (and all of them were annoying), and I didn’t know what I was supposed to take away from this film in the end. I suppose everyone will interpret this movie differently and to each his own, but in my opinion, thumbs down.

  10. I don’t know what it is about the Coen’s and Jeff Bridges but they get him to become his character. Its really a sight to see.

    2010’s ending was much better than 1969’s. The chemistry between Bridges and the absolutely delightful Hailee Steinfeld was very nicely balanced and flowed very well.

    I’m going to catch “True Grit” again if I get the time.

  11. The movie would be great without Jeff Bridges, his accent is fake and he just doesn’t have the persona to play Cogburn. The thing that sets the two apart is: John Wayne’s Cogburn was gruff and mean but he had heart and that’s waht everyone realted to. Bridges’ Cogburn is a disgusting worn out old man who appears to be too old to even speak through the whole movie. Damon did a great job and so did Pepper, but Josh Brolin should have stopped making westerns after Jonah Hex.

  12. Like everyone else I thought Nooooo when I heard about this, but then I never considered Bridges then I thought yesssss. I was then surprised to find myself thinking Whoooo could possibly play Strother Martins small part?
    and if they do Rooster Cogburn as well wil they get the same person to play the ferryman like Martin did?

    If this doesn’t win something I will have my lawyer J. Noble Daggit look into it.

  13. Haliee Steinfeld absolutely stole the show, everyone else was supporting. She demanded the attention of the audience, and kept it I believe. A great job by the whole team that made this happen.

    It was not what I expected, but then if it was – whats the fun in that?

  14. Jeff Bridges sucked bad in this talk about a hacked up job gee whiz some guy off the street could of done better he made the much about as googd as vomiting

  15. I liked this version better than the original. I read the book and it’s more authentic and less 70’s commercial(inc. soundtrack). The most jarring change was La Boef surviving. I felt his death was a reason for Mattie never marrying. Also at the end, as a humorless bitter spinster, losing her girlish charm seemed more pitiable than the loss of her father or arm.

    • I agree that at the end, the fact that she wasn’t the sarcastic sassy mattie, really did make for a loss.

  16. I thought this movie was excellent! The original was great and this update was no different. Bridges was amazing, in that he seemed to really flesh ou the character. He took the stock character John Wayne portrayed and gave him a bit more depth. Matt Damon was near unrecognizable and hilarious.Haliee Steinfeld did steal the show as user PirateDuke stated. Her performance was on caliber with all the veteran actor in the ensemble. Wonderful movie, I especially liked the fact that this movie was a bit darker than the original.

  17. I know it must be difficult to take on a film of such magnitude that stared The DUKE and do it well ,but optimistically I went to see it.I had hopes that Bridges and Damon could pull it off. In my opinion the sets and the period clothing were superb ,kinda reminded me of Dancing with Wolves .However the roles to me were lacking especially on Damon’s part..He is truly a professional and I believe the writers and/or directors were lacking-You can hardly deliver anything else than your Matt Damon was speaking in literary verbiage that a Texas Ranger of the period wouldn’t do. As a matter of my recollection the cast spoke in non contractions ,like the word wouldn’t -they would go the long way and say would not –this was done constantly…well except when things got busy then they started using many many contractions -that seemed to stand out –Maybe I should look over it and say what did I expect for a 8 dollar ticket and a 6 dollar bucket of popcorn -it was really much more as I to several people with me.I expected much more from Bridges and Damon -the outlaws had a more realistic story line than the main characters…I could keep on but I am not as it was not worth it and thank God for Jason Bourne movies otherwise I wouldn’t have known who Mat Damon was…this is just my opinion-I blame the director for my letdown not the actors–How say you old Western Watchers? by

  18. Dont know what happened to my previous comment it should read in part
    You can hardly deliver anything else than your script reads -With a piece of his tongue missing Matt Damon was speaking in literary verbiage that a Texas Ranger of the period wouldn’t do…
    just to straighten it up a bit Thanks Reddog

  19. I saw this last night and laughed the entire time. The verbal sparring was great and each actor held there own very well.

  20. Photography beautiful. Most of the dialogue excellent. Rooster!

    Truly, one of the dumbest, plotlessest, movies ever made.

    “True Grit” sets a modern record for having an actress that never changes her expression for a whole movie. There is more to acting than talking.

    It is proof that with modern technology, you can sell people anything.

    • because there’s no such thing as subtlety or a stoic character in film.

    • What should her facial expressions have been; she is a explicitly serious teenager who undertakes a mission on her own with no support except for Rooster. She does show fear and concern where it is warranted and relinquishes her controlling persona when appropriate. I don’t see how modern technology sold or fooled anyone in a movie which rests and relies solely on acting instead of explosions and computer manipulations…Matt Damons character is supposed to be a self serious, dry character who at the time seems as though he has had a formal education- this is the juxtaposition of Bridges and Damon. Great movie…
      5 stars to the Brothers!