I have to preface this by saying that the original True Grit is the first movie I ever walked out of. Now, that was in 1969 so the details of that film aren't exactly crystal clear but after seeing this one I remember that I left right after the scene where John Wayne puts the reins in his mouth and rides full force toward the enemy, a gun in each hand, and blows them all away. Oh, please. The whole film seemed pretty stupid, almost slapstick, and I pretty much hated Kim Darby as Mattie Ross. John Wayne was never one of my favorites, either. Hmmm...I wonder why I went to see it in the first place.
So, with that ringing endorsement I went to see the Coen Brothers' version (also because my Bill wanted to see it) and it is, thankfully, a different film. It has the Coen Brothers' edge, which is always a good thing, and it has Jeff Bridges which is always a great thing. Good performances all around. The humor this time is more sardonic than slapstick and Hailee Steinfeld is more appealing than Kim Darby so there's more to recommend this version. Even the reins-in-the-mouth scene works better in this one. Still...it's an okay film, a little boring, lacking in emotion.
Two nits to pick: the scene where Rooster and Mattie come across a guy hanging from a tree and the guy's about 50 feet in the air. How the heck did they get him up there? With an old West cherry-picker?
And then there's the scene where Mattie fords the river on her horse and when she gets to the other side and confronts Rooster and the Texas Marshall she isn't even wet. Hmmm...what happened there?
Anyway, there's lots of talk of an Oscar for Steinfeld and I'm sure she'll be undeservedly nominated. The Academy loves newcomer kid performances and while her performance is fine it's not Oscar-worthy. Jeff Bridges', on the other hand, is.
3 stars out of 5 for a grittier True Grit.