January 3, 2011

#114: True Grit (9/10)

Sometimes you just watch a movie and there isn't anything in particular you like about it other than the fact that it is a damn good film. True Grit is all that and a bag of cornbread.  As I sat there watching young Mattie force her horse into the river to catch up with Cogburn I could just feel it. This  is a great movie. I don't care what happens from here until the end, my eye balls are going to love every minute of it.

The Coen brothers like to make movies in which something is a little bit off. They love to play with expectation; subvert the commonplace.  Going into True Grit I expected the Coen flair. And what did they give me but a straight up western. An amazing, wonderful, tangible feeling of being in the old west.  I liked 3:10 To Yuma really well, but this might be the best western I've seen since Tombstone.  I can't say enough about the quality of the casting, the authenticity of the setting, and the perfection of the dialog.  It was so enjoyable to watch, and totally worth going to the theater to see. If you haven't seen it yet, go out and do so asap.

I have never seen the original John Wayne True Grit. I would like to see it now, but I am convinced that it won't be able to live up to what the Coens have just delivered.  I am sure the Duke did a stellar job, but Jeff Bridges is a dang good Rooster Cogburn. For my money it would be hard to top Hailee Steinfeld's version of Mattie Ross. I think it's funny that Miss Steinfeld didn't even get her name on the movie poster.  She is newcomer, but this is definitely her film.  It is her character's story and she is on screen the entire time.  She makes this film. Everybody else was great, but she is the one that turns it into an overwhelming success. The only moment that I didn't find her amazing is when she had to deliver the titular line, and you can hardly blame that on her.

I think I have sufficiently proven how much I like this movie. While it is so enjoyable to watch, there isn't much else to it.  If you are the type who has to latch on to some underlying greater meaning then there might not be a whole lot for you with True Grit. I had no problem with the shallow narrative. It worked... really well.  However, Oscar voters might pass it up due to the lack of depth. I haven't seen enough of the other Oscar favorites to know if True Grit is truly worthy of the win, but I'm speculating it will not take the victory.

There was only one thing I can say I genuinely didn't like about the movie. The very very ending felt a little off to me. I haven't thought about it much, so I am not sure why it bothered me. It just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the film and didn't serve a purpose. The last 5 minutes weren't horrible, but the movies could have been fine (better?) without it.

There may not have been anything specifically wrong with what they did at the very end. My dislike could have had more to do with the fact that I knew the movie was ending. I wanted to spend more time in this world with these characters. There was a feeling throughout the film that it was slowly building towards a big finish. I was looking forward to experiencing that with them. The ending we got was good, but didn't provide that big climax that I expected. I enjoyed the final action sequence, but overall those last several minutes felt inadequate for what the movie seemed to be progressing towards.

Even though the last bit wasn't all I had imagined it to be, there is very little to complain about. I can't wait to see it again. My meager mind bestows a 9 out of 10 on this latest Coen masterpiece.

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