True Grit – I Told Ya So


The latest of the Brothers Coen was released nationwide today and it did not disappoint.  True Grit had a lot in it that was expected, but some very pleasant surprises as well, the first being Matt Damon’s performance.  The LaBoeuf character presented a lot of challenges for him; there’s a paradoxical confidence about him, trimmed with an awkward dorkiness due to his pride in being a Texas Ranger.  But Damon pulls this off wonderfully.  If you see the film, you’ll find it shocking that I’d list Damon’s part here over the newbie Hailee Steinfeld’s offering as Mattie.  She is perhaps more impressive than Damon considering, obviously, her age and the fact that she took on what is essentially the lead role in the film.  However, Damon’s character could have easily been a throw-away and he saw to enrich the piece as much as the script would possibly allow with a high degree of success.

Then there’s Bridges.  He is the main reason why viewers will call this movie “character-driven.”  He won the Oscar for his role in Crazy Heart-a great performance in a not-so-great movie-just last year.  I wish the Academy had waited 12 more months though.  I doubt they will give him back-to-back statues and I argue that he would be more deserving of one this season as opposed to last.  Bridges masterfully mixes subtle movements and one-eyed looks with blatant comedic timing, bringing Cogburn’s flawed, yet heroic character to life.  I’ve heard some commentary on how well-written the film is, but that Bridges delivers a lot of great dialogue with an excessive garble.  Not so.  Just pay attention and you’ll catch some lines that could turn out to be legendary.  And Bridges’ speech patterns are there for a reason: to characterize Cogburn, which he does most deftly.

Lastly, as anticipated, and without giving too much away, Mattie’s character (maybe all the characters, come to think of it) certainly does find herself embattled with excessive desire.  I was in awe of her strength of character (again, incredibly well-delivered by the actress).  The Coens make this overtly apparent in the opening sequences of the film.  This made me a bit anxious to see if my prediction from my previous article on this film and filmmakers would prove correct.  I’ll simply say that it does.  To find out how, go see the flick.  I would strongly urge you to do so.

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