True Grit
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some intense sequences of Western violence including disturbing images)
Genre
Directed By
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Run Time
1 hour 50 minutes
Cast
Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
Theatre Release
December 22, 2010 by Paramount Pictures

Whatever you do, don't call it a remake.

True enough: The 2010 movie True Grit—film No. 15 for the Coen Brothers—bears certain resemblance to the 1969 film of the same title, which starred John Wayne and featured some campy singing from Glen Campbell. The new one doesn't have any singing, but it's hard to miss a few parallels. The plot's almost the same as the original. And the character names.

But the Coens insist it's not a remake, and in fact, they haven't seen The Duke's movie since they were kids. It is, rather, a more faithful adaptation of the classic American novel by Charles Portis, which provided a slightly looser basis for the 1969 film. Not everyone quite buys it, but if you see this new version, you'll be convinced that the Coens are as steadfastly true as ever to their own spirit—and the relationship of the original to this one is simply an interesting historical footnote.

The 2010 version really is a more faithful adaptation of the Portis novel—much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the book—and yet it still plays out like the quintessential Coen Brothers. There's a lot of deadpan humor, interspersed with outbursts of violence, and as the bodies stack higher the humor becomes blacker, and more ridiculous. The characters speak in a slightly exaggerated dialect that isn't based on any particular land or geographic locale, but rather takes joy in the sheer sound of the words and rhythmic poetry of the backwoods cadence. And though this is arguably the first true Western for the Coens, the formal similarities—to movies like No Country for Old Men and even The Big Lebowski—are difficult to miss.

So it's typical Coen—at once distinct from anything they've done before ...

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