Bunny and I went to see “True Grit” tonight. I've never seen the original “True Grit,” so I have nothing against which to compare it. All I know is that the original starred John “The Duke” Wayne, and there's a scene where he rides a horse, reins in his mouth and a gun in each hand.
In fact, the only reason I went to see this film was as a Christmas gift to Bunny, who really wanted to see it. Normally, westerns aren't my thing, and remakes less so, as Hollywood is creatively bankrupt, as I'm wont to say.
Only thing was, if Hollywood is creatively bankrupt and is solely going to do remakes, more of this please! This was wonderful! No romanticism here of the Old West. No beautiful people either. It took a few seconds for me to recognize Matt Damon, Barry Pepper is completely unrecognizable (and ugly to boot), Hailee Steinfeld is so plain she's just a shade from being homely, and Jeff Bridges looks about 70 in the role of Rooster Cogburn.
In fact, Jeff Bridges was great in this role as an old, cantakerous, drunk and mean marshall in this film. While he wasn't The Duke, neither was he The Dude (thankfully). The acting overall was great, and it would be a shame if Hailee Steinfeld doesn't get a nomination for leading actress. In fact, the entire theather broke out cheering in one of her scenes (although to divulge more would be a spoiler). I also haven't seen a movie this intense since “Reservoir Dogs.”
Another striking aspect of this film is the dialog—the very formal, Victorian (with a Texas twang) pattern of speech that apparently was in the original book the movie was based upon. And as Bunny remarked, no swear words at all (the PG-13 rating comes from the violence, not the langauge).
The story is straight-forward though; Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track down Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin) who killed her father and fled town. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn on the trip to Indian Territory to make sure she gets her money's worth. Cogburn is intent on not letting her come along. But she does anyway.
Now, not having seen the original, I can't say if this version is better, but it was very good, enough to watch it again.