True Grit - Blu-ray Review
By Dana Rae Jun 9, 2011, 15:50 GMT
True Grit is a powerful story of vengeance and valor set in an unforgiving and unpredictable frontier where justice is simple and mercy is rare. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), is determined to avenge her father\'s blood by capturing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who shot and killed him for two pieces of gold. Just fourteen, she enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn (Academy Award® Winner Jeff Bridges), a one-eyed, ...more
Add another phenomenal success to the repertoire of directors Joel and Ethan Coen. Their version of True Grit rides to Blu-ray, and is another incredible movie from the talented brothers.
This film had so much going for it thanks to a built-in fan base from the original movie that starred John Wayne; a built-in fan base from the highly successful novel; directed by the legendary Coen brothers; and stars the incredible Jeff Bridges fresh from his Oscar win of Crazy Heart.
Often films with so much hype flop and are a huge disappointment, especially to fans that want homage paid to the original but also want something different.
Bridges, playing the part of Rooster Cogburn, had some big shoes to fill. I mean, The Dude was stepping into a part The Duke had played. Not something to be taken lightly. And who would fill that spitfire’s role, the unflappable Mattie Ross? We met her, and loved her, and accepted her in Kim Darby’s shoes, and her name is Hailee Steinfeld.
In my opinion, this version has surpassed the original. It cannot be helped but be compared to the original, but once the comparison has been thoroughly made, 2010’s True Grit stands on its own and shall for the rest of this review.
The other comparison that cannot help but be made is the comparison to Portis’ novel. For fans of the book, they wanted this version of the movie to stay true to the book. With Wayne at the helm, the first movie did stray from the book from time to time.
From what I have read, this version stayed truer to the source material – though I confess I have not read the book. After watching both the Wayne version and the Coen version, it is on my summer reading list, but this movie is good enough to stand on its own.
The premise of the movie (if you aren’t a fan and don’t know) is that young Mattie Ross sets out to avenge the death of her father. Set in the vein of the traditional western genre, the landscape and the costume really pop in the 1080p format.
She goes to find a US marshal that is the best, one that has ‘true grit.’ Aided by God, a sense of justice, and her lawyer J. Nobel Dagget, Miss Ross gets her way at every turn. She convinces Cogburn to help her and even demands she accompany him although he makes it quite clear that she is not welcome on her own quest.
The scene where she gets a business man to not only buy her horses, but she turns around and buys her own pony back from him for ten dollars is so classically Mattie and makes you fall in love with the character. She argues and if she doesn’t get her way, she threatens to sue.
Most of the time, if the face of her stubbornness, and in the case of Rooster Coburn, too, one can see the confusion on the faces of the man she is arguing with.
The time period is on her side, for no man, even one as hardened as Rooster, can withstand so young a girl and such vast tenacity. Mattie’s doggedness and sense of right are at the heart of the movie.
Mattie gets her way, she goes on her own quest with Rooster and they are aided by a Mister LaBeouf, who is played by Matt Damon. LaBeouf is going with them for his own reason, mainly to capture Mattie’s father’s killer and take him to Texas to hang because he killed a senator.
Mattie is adamantly against this, as she wants him to hang for her father’s murder and only her father’s murder. Rooster chimes in that dead is dead, who care how he is brought to justice - even if it is in Texas for another crime?
This provides more conflict as the threesome travel together. Rooster seems caught between the two and goes back and forth in a drunken sort of way: Mattie or LaBeouf?
The audience is not really sure whose side he is on as they start out, but it is clear that he is entertaining Mattie to see how far she will take this. Rooster doesn’t hold back much when LeBeouf takes off his belt and starts to beat her; he lets it go for a few seconds and then pulls a gun on Damon’s character. He also isn’t too fond of LaBeouf’s Texas heritage or his view on Rooster’s role in the Civil War.
Another Coen brothers’ favorite, Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), plays the murderer of Mattie’s father, Tom Chaney. Chaney is at the heart of Mattie stubbornness: she must avenge her father’s wrongful death and she will succeed at whatever cost. By the time the film is finished, the cost will be great for her.
The acting is superb; the directing excellent; and the film is simply beautiful to watch from start to finish. Bridges, drunk and sweaty for most of the movie, does show ‘true grit’ at the end when he carries Mattie for miles to save her life after a rattlesnake has bitten her.
The film wraps up its final moments and shows Mattie to be an old maid spinster who never had time for marriage, but still has that unique charm that made you fall in love with her at the start of the film. You have to love the not so subtle insult she hurls at Frank James for not standing in her presence.
She holds a candle for Cogburn all her life, and in a very poignant ending, shows she has true grit, also. She walks away from James and Cole and narrates a few choice comments about marriage and what happened to LeBeouf. Perhaps she held a candle for him too.
Fans will not be disappointed, and anyone who is not familiar with the story of Rooster and Mattie Ross is in for a true western experience. The Coen brothers give us another winner in true Coen brothers’ fashion. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is easily one of the best westerns to grace the big screen in a while.
This is a film where everything builds into the character of the movie – from the gospel hymns that make up its music to the level of authentic costume design from Mary Zophres.
The film also greatly benefits from the masterful work done by director of photography Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men) - who takes full advantage of the film's open spaces to make it feel every bit of epic as the classic westerns from the past.
Along with a crystal clear picture that brings out all the details in the film, the Blu-ray comes loaded with special features that take you into the making of the film, and chronicle its journey from book to screen. These are pretty standard features you would expect from this type of film, but will interest fans of the movie.
True Grit is an incredible experience of a movie that reminds of the golden age of the western, and also grounds it in reality thanks to its level of detail and production. The Coen brothers are confident behind the camera and have assembled a cast that is more than capable of taking on the iconic roles. Simply put, this is not a movie to miss, and the Blu-ray format is the best possible way to watch it.
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FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CHailee Steinfeld Biography - Jeff Bridges Biography -
Jeff Bridges Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesJosh Brolin Biography -
Josh Brolin Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesMatt Damon Biography -
Matt Damon Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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