Movie Review: 'True Grit'
How cool is it that within the same week we can see Jeff Bridges as a high-tech Zen master living inside a computer-generated world as well as a barely literate, alcoholic, one-eyed U.S. Marshall prowling post-Civil War Indian Territory? Bridges is experiencing a bit of a Renaissance after scoring Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards for his role as Bad Blake in last year's Crazy Heart and True Grit is an extension of this era that is sure to nab him several more laurels in the upcoming awards season.What's important in looking at the 2010 version of True Grit, is to look at it not as a remake of the 1969 film but a wholly new version of the 1968 novel by Charles Portis. While True Grit (1969) is an enjoyable Western it was a John Wayne Western, and just like any other movie starring the Duke, it could not escape his presence [FYI today TCM is hosting a John Wayne Westerns marathon - all day, including True Grit]. Bridges, although a powerful force on the screen, immerses himself in the role of Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, sublimating his persona for the good of the film. He presents us with a garrulous and occasionally incomprehensible true Westerner - resourceful, dedicated, and with an intractable character.
The funny thing though, is that while "true grit" might be an accurate description of Bridges' character, this story isn't the story of Rooster Cogburn. Rather, it's the story of Mattie Ross, the highly intelligent daughter of of a murder victim who hires Cogburn to go after the killer. Played by Hailee Steinfeld, it is Mattie who is the most unfiltered source of true grit in the film [Steinfeld will be on "Lopez Tonight" tonight at 12am]. Motivated by a steely desire for revenge, Mattie fearlessly outwits the denizens of the frontier town where her father was murdered in order to secure money for her widowed mother as well as the power of the law to track down the murderer, Tom Chaney. Steinfeld, who just turned 14 eleven days ago, is a revelation as the 14 year-old Mattie, delivering every line with the humor and gravity that is the narrative voice of both the book and the film - but especially the humor!