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True Grit (2010)

by on 2013/06/10

true_grit_2010“I think she has got you pretty well figured.”

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One of the purest joys of doing this site can be found in the times I get to watch a movie that Miss_Tree, my favourite teenager, and I both love. True Grit, the 2010 Coen brothers remake of the 1969 John Wayne western, was a movie I had been dying to see for ages. Thanks to our western theme this month, the time was nigh.

Miss_Tree, who has no interest in westerns (yet), looked squint-eyed at the screen and grumbled, “What’s this?” in a manner worthy of an annoyed Clint Eastwood. But it wasn’t long though before the feisty, 14-year-old Mattie Ross, played by the remarkable Hailee Steinfeld, won Miss_Tree over completely.

Then grizzled Jeff Bridges (Bad Company) as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Deputy Marshal with a reputation for meanness, won Miss_Tree over too. Rooster sounds like a garburator filled with loose metal bolts and gallons of sloshing bourbon. He’s violent and out of shape. He’s a man of few (gurgled) words.

True Grit is a story of a strong-willed girl who wants to find the man who shot her father. She heads into town to settle up her father’s affairs and hire a marshal to bring the murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to justice. Dead or alive.

Also on the hunt for the murderous Chaney is foppish blowhard Texas Ranger LeBoeuf played by Matt Damon (Chasing Amy). The exchanges between LeBoeuf and Rooster, each trying to outshine the other in front of Mattie, are laugh-out-loud funny.  (Hair) oil meets (fire) water.

This is a gritty (pun intended) take on the west. Criminals are hung without trial from the highest tree limb, Rooster tends to shoot rather than negotiate, the trail seems littered with corpses. No place for a girl?

This is a simple tale well told. This version is apparently truer to the Charles Portis’ novel of the same name than the John Wayne version, for which Wayne won his one and only Academy award.

Mattie is a learned, no-nonsense woman of determination. The scenes where she negotiates damages and the final disposition of her father’s estate is a thing to behold. She isn’t always likeable or easy to get along with, but she gets results.

Just like this movie, in fact. Funny, harsh, suspenseful, entertaining and uncompromising, True Grit reminds me why I love westerns. Perhaps this film will be Miss_Tree’s gateway western. Here’s hoping she’ll hit the trail with me for a few more this month.

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111 minutes

Rated PG13 for drinking, cussing, fighting, shooting and endangering a minor

  1. Great movie! The book is also awesome–all in Mattie’s very distinctive voice. Get Miss_Tree a copy and she will be hooked!

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