Plot: After fourteen year old Mattie Ross’s (Hailee Steinfeld) father is killed by the drunkard Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), she seeks justice and hires the gruff US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track him down in this Western remake.
It’s a good thing True Grit has the actors that it does because otherwise this would be an excruciating movie to sit through. Most of this movie is really boring. The first half is just nothing. What kept me from falling asleep though are the three main actors of Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, and Matt Damon who are fantastic. But even they can’t act well enough to hold my interest, but I’ll give the directors (Coen Brothers) this; just as I’m about to check out of this movie, its gives you a great moment that extends its lease on my attention span, and as boring as this movie can get, there’s plenty to like about it.
First of all, the opening ten minutes is all about this girl Mattie Ross played exceptionally well by Hailee Steinfeld. She doesn’t take any shit, and she is so manipulative and persistent in all her dealings. Whether it’s with a sales man or US Marshall, she always gets what she wants. I will say though this is overplayed and it gets really tiresome. Every character she comes into contact with, she has to have this big “I’m not taking any crap” scene with endless dialogue…it’s very repetitive. Enough already, I get it. She gets her way and she’s only fourteen.
Moving on to the other main actors (Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon), what is there to say really? It’s Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon…they are really good. There are these moments though where Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) is telling a story and rambling on where it’s tough to pay attention too, much like a lot of the film. You can barely understand him at times as him and Mattie Ross walk through the woods, and the whole tone is just boring, boring, boring.
Aside from a lot of boredom suffered through out, the biggest weakness is the lack of character development. All these characters are well defined, but no one really changes by the end. In fact the personalities of these characters are so apparent in every action and dialogue they have, I got kind of bored with them. As much as I love Jeff Bridges, his voice and demeanor gets tiresome. I get it; you’re this rough and gruff guy who drinks a lot of whiskey.
But let’s get into the real strengths of this movie. The last three movies from the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man) are movies that break film conventions so much to the point where its just obnoxious and I could go on all day about how much they annoy me, but I won’t. In True Grit, the Coens make a straight forward no weird surprises movie…thank you. What the Coens do best as filmmakers is tension and shock moments. They come in bunches in True Grit. There were several times I jumped out of my seat at something that caught me off guard and it’s hard to do that to me. The last twenty minutes or so is also very strong. It’s a very good climax with the twists and turns you crave in most movies.
I would say the acting, gun fire, and ending really do elevate this movie and I did leave satisfied. It’s also great to look at. But the boring moments and lack of character development keep it from being anything you absolutely have to see. Great moments are fine, but great movies need great scenes and there are none in True Grit.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)