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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

True Grit (2010) - Western

True Grit (2010) - In this remake of the 1969 classic the Coen Brother supposedly wrote a new screenplay from the novel by Charles Portis. I say supposedly because if you had recently seen the original like I had you would have seen that the screenplay is almost identical to the original including much of the dialog. The book must have been closely followed in both version or I don't see how Ethan Coen and Joel Coen could have been so close to the 1969 version. If you read yesterday's entry you have the idea of the story, a strong headed young girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires a US Marshall named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to go with her after her father's murderer. Along for the ride is Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon) whose stilted dialog lacks the Texan much like Glenn Campbell's did in the original.
With Hailee Stainfeld in the lead gone is the sexual innuendo of the original. She looks much younger than Kim Darby did in the original and when characters say she appears too young it is true. When La Boeuf mentions thinking about stealing a kiss while she slept and then says she may be too young, Mattie looks too young in her granny night gown. Steinfeld is excellent in the role, where Darby was over the top this new actress has although just as determined as the script calls for has a unsure look in her eyes that gives away her age.
Jeff Bridges reinvents Rooster as a less bombastic Marshall who still is not inclined to let a man surrender. The banter with the Texan is thankfully reduced and minor changes to the script that have La Boeuf leave Mattie and Cogburn at times and plays the triangle between the three characters more efficiently than the original. It is a shame though the Coen brothers did not re imagine the overall story. It is still a simple revenge story. It goes basically the very same way as the original leaving the basic flaw of the first film. The main change in this version is at the post climax stage of the film; they added a long sentimental "ride for life" trying to make Cogburn the hero he really isn't by having him rush through the night with Mattie for some help for her rattle snake bite. This certainly changes the nature of the bridges character, it does not really hurt the story but I can't say it adds much. The tacked on ending with the adult Mattie is really unneeded creating a downer feeling, it does close things out so I guess it was okay.
This film is getting a lot of praise but I have to say the original is not the greatest film and this is not changed enough to make too much difference in changing that opinion. Yes by having a more realist film making approach instead of the cartoonish over the top western that is the original this is a better film. The problem is that alone can not make up for the simplistic story that never has a single character questioning what they are doing. I thought it would have been good to have the movie ask the question of how getting revenge changes a person but neither film ever goes there.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended In the Zombiegrrlz system Go See it!

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