As an update to the writing on the original 1969 version of True Grit, we ventured out and saw the remake, resting assured that the reality would fall far short of the hype. There could not be any way that the film could be as good as the original, right? Granted, the original isn’t a classic, but even the average older film is usually light years better than today’s dribble. And the Coen’s did put out The Big Lebowski after all.
And don’t get me wrong, the Dude and his escapades are a big favorite of mine, but you could not really call imagine that a great western would be made by the same folks who coined the phrase “Do not mess with the Jesus!” Well, the phrase is nice, but the fact that it is said by a gay bowler in a bright purple jumpsuit makes it….sublime. And there is nothing wrong with being a gay bowler with an unusual affinity for purple.
Today’s True Grit is light years from the original and all the changes are drastic improvements. Jeff Bridges is phenomenal, but that’s just how he is. Grit is just that- it is gritty and real in ways the original only wishes it was. Bridges’ Cogburn isn’t the well put together “fat old man” Wayne proclaims himself to be. Rather, Bridges IS a fat old man and we can see the effects of the liquor and boozing in his haggard look and slurred and sometimes almost unintelligible speech.
And, thankfully there is no Kim Darby or, to a lesser extent, Glen Campbell. Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon replace them, and they are both dramatic improvements. Although I do find the gang of outlaws a bit less interesting than those in the original overall casting is a great improvement. And it is hard to improve on Robert Duvall.
On the plot side, I presume others are correct in claiming this follows the original book a bit better and I must say it is a much more realistic telling of the story. I won’t spoil the changes, but suffice to say the rather pedestrian and pedantic original has been altered just a bit with a few bouts of realism back at the end.
If you haven’t seen it go. Now.