The Coen Bros have done a re-make of True Grit – the 1969 John Wayne classic western about an alcoholic, world-weary lawman who helps a teenage girl avenge her father’s murder. The original co-starred Robert Duvall, Glenn Campbell and Dennis Hopper. It won the 1970 Best Actor Oscar for John Wayne and became a career-defining role for the heavy smoking actor who didn’t have a huge range, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was damn good at what did.
So fast forward to 2011 and landing on Australian screens is the new version with Oscar winner Jeff Bridges in the lead role as Rooster Cogburn and co-starring feature film debutante Haillee Steinfeld who has a big future ahead of her, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin whose incredible talent strains to remain contained within his mortal body along with the guy I want to see more of – Barry Pepper. I totally rate him and wished he’d had more screen time in True Grit.
Like all quality westerns, the revenge story is straight forward and satisfying, the characters are human, conflicted and fun. The shoot-outs delivery the right amount of bullets to hit the mark and the world becomes a better place. And there’s one minor character who’ll scare anyone off ever seeing a doctor for anything ever again.
So why isn’t this as good as other Coen Bros films? It’s perfectly and brilliantly executed. But it’s no No Country For Old Men, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty, Blood Simple or The Big Lebowski.
I’m not saying it isn’t good – excuse the double negative. True Grit 2010 is really good. I’d watch it again and will buy the dvd to check out the extras. But it’s not as memorable or remarkable as their other work. This isn’t a criticism – more an observation. A lot of Coen Bros movies are 9 out of 10 some like Fargo I’d give 10 out of 10. True Grit gets an 8. Worth seeing on the big screen if you get a chance. Here’s the trailer: