True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010) — Well it doesn’t happen often that a remake is better than the original film (though with The Maltese Falcon, The Wizard of Oz, & The Thing it is not unprecedented) but here we have it.  That doesn’t diminish my love for Henry Hathaway’s film featuring the always-iconic John Wayne, but as a film-maker it’s hard to outdo those Coens.  As before, the film centers around young Maddie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a girl hell-bent on getting justice for her slain father.  She hires cantankerous drunk U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges).  Much bonding ensues.  The film reportedly resembles the book more closely than the original film but to the eyes of one who has never read the book it seems to be pretty close story-wise to Hathaway’s movie.  The difference is execution.  The Coens bring their trademark dark humor to a movie with somber subject matter.  Bridges dos very much his own take on Rooster and it works although he could have probably played drunk in a way that wasn’t quite so unintelligible.  Matt Damon practically plays comic relief as overconfident doofus Texas Ranger LaBeouf.  The standout of the cast though is the lead actress Hailee Steinfeld.  Whereas Kim Darby played the role more “spunky,” Steinfeld conveys a more steely determination.  She hires Cogburn because she hears that he has “true grit,” but by the end of the film it can easily be claimed the title does not refer to Cogburn.

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