True Grit (15)

Film

Westerns

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Feb 8 2011

The Coens as auteurs take a back seat to the Coens as respectful master craftsmen for this superb adaptation of Charles Portis’s 1968 Wild West novel, ‘True Grit’. Following the success of ‘A Serious Man’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’, the brothers have adapted a book which in 1969 inspired a decent but only mildly entertaining film that was in thrall to the vanity of John Wayne. Here, they give back to that tale the same grit that attracts young teen Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to the grizzled, louche US Marshal, Reuben ‘Rooster’ Cogburn.

Mattie is a pragmatic and determined young girl, with a maturity way beyond her years. She arrives in a small town where her father was recently murdered and her mission is simple: to hire a man to help her track down the killer. The sheriff recommends Rooster as the ‘meanest’ option, and that’s enough. She ignores Rooster’s rudeness and drinking and stalks him until he agrees. It’s the beginning of an oddball, Platonic romance, although the Coens ditch the explicit admiration of Rooster’s ‘she reminds me of me’ line from the 1969 film. Theirs is a testy partnership that thaws until they reach a lasting bond.

The opening shot of Mattie’s father lying dead outside a tavern, lit only by the light from the porch sets the scene for the Coens’ attractive yet no-nonsense spin on this tale. It also establishes the film’s look. Before Mattie and Rooster head into the wild, the film’s colours range from oatmeal white and sackcloth brown to urine yellow. Once outdoors, Roger Deakins’s photography honours the barren, wintry landscape but holds back from romantic longing. There are two montage sequences of journeys over land, and that’s enough to establish the epic nature of the story and the place.

Bridges is laidback, irascible and mumbling as Rooster, and all the better for it. But the Coens’ trump card is Steinfeld. Thirteen at the time of filming, she’s a revelation. She plays Mattie as hard, but not cold, and is smart enough to show the chinks in her armour. Matt Damon takes the Glen Campbell role as LaBoeuf and plays it much less pretty as the Texas Ranger who joins Mattie and Rooster in their horseback hunt.

The Coens have made a western that assumes a pleasing position  between stately and earthy. There’s plenty of black humour and the brothers don’t ignore the grim realities of danger and death, but this is no ‘The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’. They scrimp on neither warmth nor wit. There’s love, too, for the values, language and landscape of the time, and as such it’s a fairly traditional film, as stressed by Carter Burwell’s quietly monumental and wistful score. It could be the Coens’ most straightforward film, but it’s also one of their best.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Feb 11, 2011

Duration:

110 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|31
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John Cooper

One of the best westerns I've seen, and though I didn't understand half of what Jeff Bridges was saying, I could still make out the marvellous line . .. If they were wantin` to be buried proper, they shudda got killed in the summer` a reference to the frozen ground of the indian territory where much of film takes place. The language of the film, with its colourful nineteenth century verbosity is authentic, and the Coens capture the spirit and the ethos of these dangerous time. The unpredictable shift in seasons . . . one moment winter, next moment summer . . seems to reflect the shiftiness of the many of the characters . . who are impressively capable of humour at times of extreme stress . . .( probably due to the imbibing of prodigious amounts of whisky. What is also impressive is the film's refusal to settle for the sentimentality of the likable music score, opting for a realistic denouement which is strangely moving. The acting is committed and all involved should be congratulated on managing to become creatures of the 1870's American. where despite the harshness of the times, honour and integrity were still to be found.

Andy S

A wonderful, if flawed, Western, with a fabulous turn from Jeff Bridges and debutant Hailee Steinfeld who puts in a stunning performance eager to avenge her father’s murder. As usual with the Coens there are some surreal moments but overall it was pretty coherent, funny and enjoyable. The flaws, though, include Bridges muffled dialogue (thank God for subtitles!), no reference to the girl’s Indian heritage and the ending was rather rushed and unsatisfying. However, Barry Pepper nearly steals the entire thing with a fantastic creepy appearance as a filthy looking outlaw, but Josh Brolin was wasted and Matt Damon possibly mis-cast. Why do directors think he’s worth it? Get Guy Pearce instead! Overall, a decent 4/5.

the native

As a person who grew up in Ft. Smith and is familiar with the court records of this time period, I am amused to see comments that the film is not realistic, since Portis lifted most of the incidents and dialogue straight out of the court records and diaries of the US Marshalls who served the district, and the film in turn follows much of the book word for word. New Mexico also does a good stand in for the Oklahoma Territory. The only thing missing is the southern drawl that characterized the speech of people who grew up in that part of Arkansas during that time period--oh and Mattie's frequent references to her Presbyterianism along with her subsequent career as a banker. This is not a parody folks, this is very close to the real thing. Much better than the John Wayne buffoonery of the previous film.

TRUTHTELLER.

The Coen brothers are really starting to irritate with their re-makes of excellent films. They actually had the temerity to remake The Ladykillers. The original True Grit was an excellent movie and won John Wayne an oscar. This movie is also an excellent film with a terrific performance from Jeff Bridges.

N. Kavala

Entertaining. I was not bored. But everything stayed shallow, suspended in a sort of mellow-glossy artificiality. Best aspect of the film for me was the antique American which meant I had to work to follow the dialogue. A good thing. Maybe I would have rather either realism (the film was not believable on just about any level) or out an out parody. This was very gentle parody. Of course every Hollywood movie is a parody. This is at least a classy one.

Cappybear

After all the ballyhoo, I found this film slightly disappointing. It's as well I'd read the book and seen the 1969 film otherwise I would have struggled with Jeff Bridges' often inaudible delivery of his lines. Perhaps he should have had subtitles. Perhaps, too, the Coen Brothers should have taken fewer liberties with the book. On balance, no better or worse than the John Wayne movie.

Bartleby

Thoroughly enjoyed this and have no complaint about the film at all. However, I have found slightly troubling the way that critics and publicists have tried to diminish the earlier film. I just watched the original one a couple of weeks back and there's barely a cigarette paper's width of difference between the plot and dialogue of both. Both were pretty faithful to Portis' book. Of course, the 2011 has grittier and grungier visual style but that's as much down to the way filmmaking fashions change as much as anything else. And Jeff Bridges is wonderful as Cogburn, but don't let anyone say that John Wayne wasn't massively charismatic in the earlier one. My advice: see (and enjoy) both.

Bartleby

Thoroughly enjoyed this and have no complaint about the film at all. However, I have found slightly troubling the way that critics and publicists have tried to diminish the earlier film. I just watched the original one a couple of weeks back and there's barely a cigarette paper's width of difference between the plot and dialogue of both. Both were pretty faithful to Portis' book. Of course, the 2011 has grittier and grungier visual style but that's as much down to the way filmmaking fashions change as much as anything else. And Jeff Bridges is wonderful as Cogburn, but don't let anyone say that John Wayne wasn't massively charismatic in the earlier one. My advice: see (and enjoy) both.

anon

I've seen this film twice already and I have to say what fine acting from the whole cast, hailee steinfeld was exceptional and jeff bridges managed to pull off such an iconic role, matt damon was there but surprisingly restrained in his bit. It was well made film, everything sort of fell into place, it did not feel too stylised and incredible cinematography by roger deakins that really tied the film together. But the ending where rooster rides off with mattie was kind of peculiar and took away some of the earlier gritty realism and I wonder if that was a deliberate move on the directors part from matties perspective possibly to suggest a feeling of being far-off and not quite all there as she completes her journey in a half-conscious state. I also felt that the musical score was somewhat forced for the purpose of provoking on the emotional level and was only there to make up for the lack of it in the film, it did seem quite unnecessary in parts where I thought silence could have worked better, but thats not to say of course that it was brilliant to listen too, and the changes were spot on to suit the changes determined in the film but for a simplistic kind of story it seemed excessive. The film does kind of hint at the futility of revenge in a coens kind of way that is not too drawn out, a lot is concealed from us and we are only shown the grit and the action that gives the film its direction. I would not give this film any less than a 4 and I can't put a finger on why but I just enjoy watching it, it is refreshing, different, funny and light and just a great experience and I would not mind seeing it again.

george

unusual story but simplistic and minimalistic in the sense that much was toned down to make the film as true as possible to the context laid out in the novel, and essentially it remained authentic to that world; roosters character is not too drawn out to a point of exaggeration, nevertheless jeff as rooster manages to engage our attention in his strong prescence on-screen. the little girl was totally convincing in her characterisation and it was interesting to observe her encounters with the different men. when the father dies, the film is propelled into life, unlike the 1969 version that felt the need to introduce the film with a backstory where we see the dad with mattie. in this film the father is dead right from the start and it is mattie's grit that keeps her grounded and firm in her principle resolution to avenge her fathers death. just to sound corny the film itself is rooted in true grit therefore the subdued emotion only seems appropriate for that, were the film to have shown the father as living would have killed the impact that is made from the start and that becomes the cause of the film itself

Moviegeek

I really don't understand the critical success of this film. Yes, of course it's very handsomely filmed, but: A) it's all incredibly predictable both in terms of story and characters B) Most of the dialogue is pretty ludicrous (at least whatever you can understand from Jeff Bridges) C) Hailee Steinfeld's character is the most annoying ever, in fact they all are, hence the audience's attachment to the is pretty low. D) the ending is terrible I think people are seeing something that it's not there, just because it's a Coen Brother's film. More details on my blog http://wp.me/p19wJ2-8E

Evie

The Coen brothers definitely struck gold when they found Hailee Steinfeld. She's a revelation however Matt Damon does manage to steal a few funny scenes from her. It could easily have done with another 15 minutes on the end or Mattie's father's murder could have been portrayed at more length at the beginning as we dont really get a sense of the man for whom she is so driven to get justice. There's a few irritating continuity errors but putting these little niggles aside this is an enjoyable film which I'd recommend

Sutton

An excellent film! I’m surprised by the negativity on here, it does take a little while to tune in to Jeff Bridge’s accent, but once you have, it is worth the (minimal) effort. Superb performances from all the leads, great dialogue and a very humorous script. The cinematography was also excellent. I’d give the film five stars, but for the fact that the film is a re-make. This will be one of the films of 2011.

trickerg

Awful. I too would have walked out had I not been sitting in the middle of a row. Where did they get those actors? They sounded like they were off some Amish farm and all had some kind of speech impediment. There was no emotion conveyed to the audience at all - I felt nothing for any of the characters. There was a dreadful weather problem - how did the snow stay on the ground in the torrential rain - and the saddle not get wet? How could Maddie have dried off so quickly gettign out of the river? How did it start snowing from a startlit sky? And the story line!! It was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Glad I saw it half price.

jess

Cant understand all the negativity towards True Grit. Not all characters are made out to suit the audiences hearing level so tough luck if y couldnt make out Roosters dialogue. In my opinion this film was appealing and remarkably enjoyable, I was taken right into that old western world, people who couldnt engage with this film probably couldnt appreciate that. Coen brothers or not, everything seemed to fit, the atmosphere was right as were the raw and authenticity of the acting from the whole cast. it stands as a film in its own right so keep off from the comparisons with the 1969 true grit.

blib

moviegeekblog..Spot on! I wanted to slap Hailee Steinfield. And Perchance I do believe I may or I may have not come to the conclusion but please if you would allow me to ask as indeed is my wont....Did everybody speak like they were auditioning for Twelth Night in the wild west?? Pretty sure Coen brothers could film a trip round Tesco and everybody would be wetting themselves to say how good it is.

Russell

Reverential nod at the values of the old West, unusually for the Coens the film appears to be played completely straight. Performances are uniformly excellent and it's truly touching, but for most people it will be Hailee Steinfeld who is the most memorable.

Russell

Reverential nod at the values of the old West, unusually for the Coens the film appears to be played completely straight. Performances are uniformly excellent and it's truly touching, but for most people it will be Hailee Steinfeld who is the most memorable.

Jenny

What a crashing disappointment. I would have left earlier but was in the middle of a row,...Sorry to say but this was dull and I was delighted when it finally ended. For a start Hailee's character is totally unbelievable, I could only make out about two thirds of what Jeff Bridges was saying, I was not at all interested in the characters and frankly couldn't care less what happened to them. The only time Hailee showed some emotion was when the horse was shot and put out of its misery. Lucky horse.

JohnS

I have to agree with the negative comments about True Grit. I felt let-down and disappointed, expecting more realism from a modern re-make of a previous “classic�. I wanted it to be tenser, “darker� and the characters to be more realistic and believable. For example, how a rugged, murderous outlaw could put his foot on Mattie’s neck threatening to kill her one minute and then invite her to breakfast the next left me dumbfounded. As was the way she casually walked into the outlaw’s camp and chatted with them like old friends. When Ned Pepper then tells Chaney not to touch the girl or else (why?), I gave up. This film is totally unconvincing. Matt Damon was miscast as the Texas Ranger. Bridges was very good apart from the mumbled lines that made the dialogue hard to follow, which is a shame as the script is excellent in parts. See “The King’s Speech�, “127 Hours� or “The Social Network� instead.

Mikey

The Western is back! Hailee Steinfeld deserves a lot credit and I hope she continues to stretch herself as an actor and doesn't fall into the typecast trap. Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper were fantastically unpridictable as villains which added great suspense. I found myself not wanting the film to end. A must see!

Jonah

Loved this film watched it earlier tonight. Strong performances from Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld. Great story, Recommended

Jonah

Loved this film watched it earlier tonight. Strong performances from Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld. Great story, Recommended

scrumpyjack

Excellent while being oddly disappointing. Oscar for the girl please. Will watch again but only to confirm, rather than "damn, I must see again! 8/10 sadly "Great"

crittique

Typically quirky, uninvolving effort from the always distinctive Coens. Authentic or not, Bridges` performance is just plain annoying. One star each for the assertive, spirited Mattie, the photography and the enjoyable (when you can make it out) dialogue.

Phil Ince

Saw this yeterday and found it hard to concentrate on. Today I feel as if there was consistently something essential missing and that maybe this film shows the Coen brothers limitations. There were moments when slips seemed to reach the screen; the outstanding one being Maddie reaching the far side of the river apparantly bone dry though we'd seen her in the water up to her eyes. What about the montage of the trail in the middle of the film though with the constant changes of direction? Was it intended to indicate a winding route? In retropsect, the impression was only of travelling through a small place in circles. The ending!; the ride through the forest was a really bizarre muddle of ineptitude and cliche. We were surely meant to be moved by the final, circus scene but the film is played and presented so much as a black comedy that it hasn't earned its spurs; it can't expect that we're moved by it and winds up looking perfunctory. 3 stars but I don't know why quite so many.

Mike

When a fortune is spent on advertising it usually means one of two things – either the film’s excellent, or a turkey. Surprisingly, this is neither – it’s just mediocre. Jeff Bridges is inaudible in places, and Hailee Steinfeld talks way too quickly. There are some humdinging continuity flaws, my favourites being Steinfeld’s gun managing to cock itself second time round in the early river scene, and earlier when Matt Damon thrashes Steinfeld’s behind immediately after she’s crossed the river (up to her neck in water), and Steinfeld’s clothes are then mysteriously dry. Josh Brolin and Matt Damon put in acceptable performances. But I was bored after an hour – the story’s so predictable. Four people left part way through – it would have been five if only it didn’t mean such an upheaval in the row for me to get out. Disappointing. Two stars. If you want a good film go see "127 Hours", "The Fighter", or "The King's Speech".

moviegeekblog

The commSorry, I know one should never speak evil of the Coen Brothers, but I really could NOT engage with this film at all. I hated Hailee Steinfeld throughout and found her totally unbelievable, and not very likable. Nor did I find likable Matt Damon... I would have probably liked Jeff Bridges if I could understand what he was talking about. Between the thick accent and the fact that he was constantly mumbling, I must have missed at least 1/5 of his dialogue. So without anyone to care about I was left watching the beautiful photography and listening to the nice soundtrack (however that felt like it belonged to a different movie). Sorry, I was just bored bored bored, right till the end, when finally a couple of snakes make the tension rise for about a minute or so... After that, back to old boredom (including some bad back-projection). Just because something has Jeff Bridges in it and it's directed by the Coen Brothers, doesn't make it good. And this comes from somebody who thinks Spielberg can do no worng (he was the executive producer of "True Grient you type in this box will appear on the site