True Grit: The Remake

Review of the 2010 film.

Mattie Ross, a teenager with a head for figures goes in search of the man who murdered her father, a nere-do-well called, amongst other names that he uses, Tom Cheyney. Mattie hires the services of an ageing reprobate, US Marshall Rooster Cogburn to take her into the Indian Nation Territory in search of her father’s killer, who is hiding out there. They are joined, somewhat to their initial irritation, by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, who has his own ulterior motive for wanting Cheyney. This mismatched trio find danger, surprises and, eventually, mutual respect too, with Mattie ‘winning her spurs’.

I am old enough to remember fondly the original True Grit film from 1969, starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn with Kim Darby and Glen Campbell as his co-stars. When I first saw the 2010 remake I was initially unimpressed, until I realised I was probably making the same mistake that I suspect a lot of other people will have made; comparing the two films instead of judging the later movie on its own merits. I think it likely that people who see the 2010 film without having first watched the original will have a higher opinion of it.

Written and ably directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, it is clearly the same story (unlike some remakes which seem to bear no resemblance to the original), and much of the dialogue will be instantly recognisable to those who remember the first film. Where the big difference becomes obvious is in the tone and style of the story telling. The later film is definitely the ‘grittier’ of the two.

Jeff Bridges a the ‘fat, old eyepatched lawman’ gives Rooster a darker character, seemingly more in keeping with a hard bitten, slightly jaded hard drinking ‘peace’ officer. He was ably supported by Hailee Steinfeld, as Mattie Ross, who had employed the marshall to track down her father’s murderer. I was somewhat disappointed though by Matt Damon, as the other co-star in the production.

Damon took the part of the Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, the role formerly played by Glen Campbell. Whilst both Bridges and Steinfeld brought something new and original to their roles, I did not get the same impression from Damon as LaBoeuf.

One thing I don’t understand, is why Hailee Seinfeld did not get higher billing than Josh Brolin, who played the killer Cheyney. Her part was bigger with more screen time and her playing of the role of Mattie perhaps better than Kim Darby, from 1969. She deserved higher billing than she was given (which is why I chose not to use the film poster as the picture with this review).

Anyone who has read previous reviews I have penned, might have noticed that I make no bones about writing subjectively. For True Grit 2010 I have made a conscious effort to be objective, so as not to denigrate a fine film by comparison with the 1969 original. Unlike other remakes where improvement often depends on updated technology and better effects, the western genre does not lend itself to that. It is the fine performances that carry this movie.

 “You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another.
There is nothing free except the grace of God.” – Mattie Ross.

P.s. On a purely subjective, personal note I prefer ……

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2 thoughts on “True Grit: The Remake

  1. Pingback: The Magnificent Seven | Entertaining Angels

  2. Pingback: True Grit – Film Review | teacupsandthings

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