Film Review: TRUE GRIT

Directed by Ethan and Joel Cohn
Written by Charles Portisl screenplay by Ethan and Joel Cohn
Starrring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper
Released: December 2010

Unlike many, I was a fan of the original film of TRUE GRIT. I just read the book this fall and loved it and couldn’t resist renting the movie despite what I’d heard about it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. And of course I also couldn’t resist the remake.

PLOT: Following the murder of her father by hired hand, Tom Chaney, 14-year-old bible quoting farmgirl, Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) sets out to bring his murderer to justice. To help her in what she knows will be an impossible task alone, she hires Rooster Cogburn (Bridges), a man with “true grit” after she discovers he’s murdered more than two dozen men in bringing them to justice. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney who has now joined the Culpepper gang. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for criminal activity in Texas. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey and each turns out to possess true grit.

This new version was a fine straight-forward telling of this tale. I was surprised at just how straight-forward and faithful it was, given the directors. Of all their films, this one seems to have the least of their imprint on it. That does not make it a bad movie, but it does beg the question, why? Did they make it just to try their hand at a true western?

I don’t think this was Bridges’ best performance either. I had trouble understanding him and it was played too much like hic character from last year’s CRAZY HEART. You can only do drunks in so many ways. Wayne, and I am not a Wayne fan, brought a certain vibrancy to the part that Bridge’s lacks. You picture a life beyond drink and sleep for his version of Cogburn.

It also was somewhat lacking in excitement, and although the central performance of Ms. Steinfeld was fine, at some point she lost her centrality. This may have been a directorial decision or that she was simply overwhelmed by Bridges, Damon, Brolin and Pepper. This sounds like a lukewarm endorsement and I guess it is a bit. I liked the film, but I didn’t love it. You know the feeling, I am sure.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.