True Grit (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
16Jan/110

True Grit (2010)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Author's Note: For anyone wondering where our weekly Can't Stop The Podcast is, that will be up tonight to cover the results of the Golden Globes. Until then, you can read my horribly bitter review of a critical darling. Fun!

Danny INDIFFERENTThere are a lot of reviews of True Grit that are wrong. I know it's impolite to say such, but they simply are.

True Grit is not the story of Rooster Cogburn. It's not about Jeff Bridges, slurring recklessly, nor is it about Matt Damon as Le Beouf, a Texas Ranger with an ego problem. It's all the store of a little girl named Mattie whose father is murdered. Mattie is guided by Cogburn and Le Beouf as her guardian angels, ferrying her through the treacherous terrain of the West.

Mind you, True Grit is set in the time where Oklahoma was the West. It was still wild, but full of eccentric characters and hideaways for roving gangs of bandits.

This is the world Mattie finds herself in. She's a crackerjack kid, relentless and spirited. Upon hearing of her father's murder by a conniving cattlehand, she heads to the town and arranges for a Marshall to head out into the territory and bring him to justice. She plays negotiations with a clever intensity that reflect her own youthful exuberance and calculated plans.

Hi, I'm Jeff Bridges. I'm the star of this movie. I hope you enjoy watching this movie about me, Jeff Bridges.

This youth is soon to be robbed, though. Her engagement of the irreverent Marshall Cogburn and work with the persistent Le Beouf lead her into a veritable Joseph Conrad-esque journey, with the primary player not being the near-titular Cogburn but Mattie.

It's a shame, then, that Bridges seems ordered to have such a singular domination over most scenes. His character is a mishmash of Bridges roles, and its hard to believe that the film is based on a book-- it seems specifically engineered for the persona Bridges has been cultivating for the last decade. Combining this with some rather dull comedic urges-- if there wasn't a punchline based on buffoonery or understatement from Mr. Cogburn, I'd be surprised-- leaves him as rather unaffecting, a character who is obviously a character.

This is a problem that runs rampant through the movie, as, like in their version of The Ladykillers, the directors Joel and Ethan Coen see their mockery as the means to the end. Mattie, as both the protagonist and the straight man for most of the mischief, is ill-served by this. Since Bridges is the star, he gets the picture.

Damon is good, of course. Is Matt Damon ever bad in a movie? Well, maybe Team America: World Police, his acting seemed a bit forced there.

It's a disappointment, especially when the plot finally forces the Coens to go back to Mattie in the epilogue. We are finally entreated to the results of what Mattie's quest were, and these scenes are remarkably powerful in not only speaking to what can happen to a person ill-served by a violent revenge but whose life has left their control and become hardened. If the movie had earned this ending, it would have been as powerful as some of the Coens best work.

As it is, though, it's only good if you want to see Jeff Bridges goof around for a few hours, and there are far better movies that you can see that in.

Posted by Danny

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