I Think the Duke is Pleased


True Grit (2010)
A Review by Ben Hunter
3½ Out of 5 Stars

Nice job Coen Brothers!

You've officially made a movie that I've seen that I really enjoyed! Usually with the Coen's it's a decent movie, and I just can't totally comply with the story and get behind the film. With True Grit, I'm over the line, past the "I hated it area", past the middle of the road/neutral feeling, and into the "I liked it region". It wasn't 100% but I really liked this movie nonetheless!

First things first, we have to put credit where it's due. Heck of a job Jeff Bridges! It's clear that he was chosen for this film when there was talk of him doing a great job on a film in which he finally got his academy award for. "Crazy Heart" earned him this role in "True Grit", and he's definitely paid his dues. So to take on a role in which the duke himself, John Wayne, is a hard act to follow. A role in which the duke won an academy award for. So it was a great choice by the Coen's in selecting Jeff Bridges who just got his Oscar for a film debuting in the year before. His performance in "True Grit" was definitely Oscar worthy!

With that said, casting is VERY important when making an "Oscar Worthy" type of film. If it's a cute little date movie, that's one thing, but even then the wrong choices in character selection can ruin an easy going, low concept type of film, like "She's Out of My League" or "Good Luck Chuck". 

So when you have an Academy Award winning actor recently coming off of his Oscar win, that's giving you a kick butt performance, following in the shoes of the actor that gave a superb job in that same role winning an Oscar for a similar performance, everyone that actor comes into contact needs to be of high quality to really showcase this main actor, something Heath Ledger brought out in others on set of his most famous role to help with this task (my quote) . It was a great choice to surround Jeff Bridges with talented actors some Oscar winners and Oscar worthy. But the main problem with this film in my opinion is the main actor that Jeff Bridges plays off of, Hailee Steinfeld. Still giving a great performance even though I couldn't buy hers. 

It seriously felt like she was reading her lines, with a little emotion here and there. Normally that would bring down other actors but since they're all top of the line, the movie didn't suffer, and I didn't get that sense because as I mentioned, I really liked this film. I could tell it was just solely the girl. Kim Darby clearly did a better job as "Mattie" in the original film in 1969. Hailee is a cuter girl, which only goes so far. I got over Kim Darby not being as attractive as I thought she probably should've been because she her acting ability surpassed those feelings almost immediately. 

The Coen Brothers should've searched the earth for that role. A girl who came up in theater, probably in her early 20's who can look 14 (the 18 to look younger category), and really give a great performance, maybe one that's Oscar worthy; someone who can hang with the big boys, so to speak. 

It's a great story, although in my opinion it doesn't top the original. I think because of the good quality of the material, is why Josh Brolin, an Academy Award nominee, agreed to play a part that gets very little screen time. I felt like he was cheated and thought, "why he would agree to such work?". They could've gotten a B list actor willing to take the little screen time in hopes to become a household name because of this movie and no longer be referenced as "that guy from ..."

Overall, the great story of the film prevails and it still comes off as a good movie. One that adults can enjoy!

True Grit
Western, 110 Minutes, PG-13
Written & Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Hailee Steinfeld

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