Sign in | Register now | Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

Hi: 32
Lo: 23
Hi: 25
Lo: 14
Hi: 31
Lo: 29
Advertise on

Readers Blog: Schmoo On The Movies

Award Season Reviews: True Grit


The end of the year has truly bombarded avid filmgoers with a bevy of Oscar-caliber films. This has come as quite a treat considering the first 75% of the year wasn't exactly worth writing home about. I had almost forgotten that I'd dubbed 2010 as the year of disappointments; that is, until I saw TRUE GRIT.

Being a huge fan of the 1969 film, the Coens, Jeff Bridges and composer Carter Burwell, I expected this film to be a slam dunk. In hindsight, I know my initial expectations were flawed. There was never any substitute for Wayne's Rooster Cogburn, not even someone as talented as Bridges. And without a good Rooster, the film doesn't have a solid foundation. A loophole around this would have been for the Coens to make something distinct from the original film in which comparisons to The Duke might not have been so relevant, but the end product of this remake was just that. No one can call this a reimagining, it's a straight, almost scene-for-scene remake of the Henry Hathaway original. Reports preceding the film and its present defenders claim that the Coens drew more inspiration from the Portis novel than the preceding film, but I don't buy that. The film offers us little new in the way of interpretation or content.

As I alluded to before, remaking TRUE GRIT in such a manner would not have been a problem if it weren't for Bridges performance. His version of the character is the only thing that differs greatly from the original. Bridges' Cogburn is mumbling and soft; his approachability and crazy-grandpa appeal kills a lot of the film's drama and stifles the full potential of his and Maddie's relationship. Hailee Steinfeld mimics the inflection of Kim Darby very closely, Matt Damon shows shades of Glen Campbell's smug confidence and Barry Pepper eerily recalls the work of a young Robert Duvall; Bridges is the only thing that's off.

I'm not saying the film is all bad or anything even close to that. TRUE GRIT is okay. There are some stunning visuals and some very good performances, even Josh Brolin puts on a good showing in his limited screen time. Burwell's score is impressive and unfortunately has been dropped from Oscar contention due to being derived from 19th century hymns and therefore deemed insufficiently original. It's just that so much about what makes TRUE GRIT True Grit is John Wayne. That film is so much about the hard persona he cultivated in his illustrious career. His tenderness and vulnerability as Rooster Cogburn is made that much more potent when considering the type of man Wayne was and the characters he often portrayed. His frantic ride to save Maddie Ross holds so much more weight and power than does Bridges'. Portis wrote a classic novel, I appreciate that, but it never would have been adapted in 2010 if it weren't for John Wayne putting on an acting clinic in the original film.

So, in summation: TRUE GRIT is too close to the original to have a vastly different Cogburn. Such a thing might have worked if this film had strayed further from its predecessor, but that's not the road the Coens took.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this and other user-submitted content do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of, its staff, its advertisers and/or its partners. This user-submitted content has not been checked for factual accuracy, and any photos uploaded have not be verified to be copyright-free. It is the user's responsibility to post text and/or photos that belong to that user and do not violate any copyright or intellectual property laws. If you feel this content is abusive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate, click to report and we will review this blog entry.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


sandstorm | Jan. 6, 2011 at 9:52 a.m. (report)

Bridges is better as Cogburn than Wayne.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post your comment/review now 1 comment about this blog.
Post your comment/review now

Facebook comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of or its staff.