True Grit (2010)

Reviewer: Ella G.
What would you do if your father was gunned down in cold blood? Would you sit at home and do nothing? Would you collect your father’s belongings and see his body safely back to your mother and brother and sister? Or would you hire a federal marshal to accompany you into Indian Territory, head after the perpetrator and return him to face due justice?
For Maddie Ross, the last option is the only one her mind will entertain. Hired hand Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) has run off with Frank Ross’s gold pieces and his mare; he has killed his employer and joined up with Ned Pepper’s (Barry Pepper) gang. No one in the tiny town where Ross was killed has the gumption, or the grit, to do anything about it…..the only person who remotely would is Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a loud mouthed, sharp shooting, drinking sort of a man. Maddie hires him on the spot; after all, this is the kind of guy that could get Chaney. However, Rooster doesn’t take Maddie seriously; she is just a fourteen year old kid. Texas Ranger Le Beouf (Matt Damon), who is after Chaney himself, shares the same opinion as Cogburn. Yet nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to stand in her way. She has grit of her own.
Remakes walk a very fine line. They are either successes or failures. They either hold their own against the original or you compare it over and over again. In my personal opinion, True Grit was the former; it didn’t try to imitate scene for scene John Wayne’s Academy Award portrayal, but follows the novel on which it was based; consequently, there is more humor and is an avenue for all of the good guys to shine. (Notice in the 1969 version how John Wayne is hailed as almost a god.) Jeff Bridges doesn’t try to be Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn; he puts his own spin on the role. Matt Damon brings the comic relief to the film. Hailee Steinfield, well, she has a future in Hollywood. In fact, I would not be surprised if this thirteen year old newbie takes home the Supporting Actress statuette. She was that good.
Yet how was the movie in terms of good or bad content? There was absolutely no sexual content but some harsh language. Genera profanities and God’s name in vain are scattered throughout the film. It’s not overly abundant, yet because there are a few here, a few there, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many profanities are present. And because it is a Western, there is some violent content… to be honest, I am surprised there wasn’t more. If you have seen the original, you have have a pretty good idea of the action involved, but there is more of it. Maddie falls into a rattlesnake pit and gets bit. There are shootouts with a lot of blood. A quick yet gory scene, comes when someone cuts off another man’s fingers. And for horse lovers, there is a scene where Cogburn must shoot the animal (off screen) after it has been winded and hurt.
Add all of this up together, it isn’t necessarily something young children should see, but I don’t have a problem recommending it to adults and mature teens. I am not a person who even likes Westerns that much; Matt Damon and all the talk of Hailee Steinfield drew me into the theatre. But I left contented and pleased. It takes grit to go see a movie out of your comfort zone; the actors displayed grit in taking on roles that will inevitably be compared to icons. Isn’t that what True Grit tries to convey anyway? 

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