Saturday, 28 January 2012

True Grit 2010

I do not understand why I had not previously added a review of the remake of True Grit alongside the original with John Wayne as I saw in theatre at the time it was released at the end of 2010 just before Christmas. The film was made by the splendid Coen brothers whose work is always interesting although not always enjoyable and satisfying.

The story is an engaging one with a fourteen year old girl taking it upon herself to arrange for the return of the body of her father who has been killed when intervening in a conflict involving one of his hired hands while in town Fort Smith Arkansas purchasing two animals. The man Tom Cheney has headed into Indian country with two of her fathers special gold coin pieces. She comes to town just for the day with another hired hand as escort although she sends him home with the body staying in town to undertake unfinished business. Her first task is to cancel the purchase and claim compensation for the loss of her father’s horse which she negotiates hard. She sees the local Justices who have no interest in pursuing the murderer so she seeks advice as to who might be willing to undertake the task offering to pay $50 over the state terms. This is then raised to an additional $50 on success of the mission. She is given three names and approaches the old timer Rooster Coburn played by Jeff Bridges in the remake. While John Wayne remained distinctly John Wayne in the original Mr Bridges has become famed for his characterisation where you would not know who the actor is without being informed. This is to his credit although both performances are outstanding.

Roster Cockburn is not anti social as such but prefers to follow his business without encumbrances so the idea of being accompanied let alone commissioned by a fourteen year girl is understandably not something he is prepared to countenance. She begins to have misgivings about him after finding him a drunken state and wishes she had first approached Texas Ranger LaBoeuf played by Matt Damon who is also after the same man for the murder a Texan senator, especially as he knows the territory involved. While she is staying at the same boarding house where her father lodged The Texan and Rooster make an early start without her, telling the ferry man that she is a runaway and not to let her cross. She crosses the river anyway with the horse swimming.

The two men first fall out over the treatment of the girl and allowing her to go with them. Mattie Ross is played by Oscar nominated Hailee Steinfield who had to compete with 15000 applicants for the role(She is to play Juliet in a remake film of Shakespeare’s play.

With the onset of winter and snow falling the two make for a an overnight lodge on the advice of a medicine man they encounter but find that outlaws have taken up residence. They smoke them out and plan to stay overnight after a fight before finding out that a well known gang is to arrive accompanied by the man they are after. The two wait in ambush on a hill overlooking the cabin. The plan misfires when the Texas Ranger arrives before the outlaw gang. Rooster is able to his aid at a distance although the man is injured. Some of the outlaws escape to join the rest of the gang.

Unfortunately the two men argue again this time over the Civil War and La Beuof again goes off and Mattie is then caught by the gang when she is getting water from the river and confronts Chaney. Fortunately La Boeuf comes to the rescue just before Chaney is about to the kill Mattie. who has been taken hostage. They devise a plan to take on the gang which involves Rooster taking on four men a kind of jousting conflict. After killing three, Rooster falls and is trapped by his horse. LaBoeuf makes an amazing shot of 400 yards to down the fourth man. Having also killed Chaney the mission is over. Unfortunately Mattie falls down into a cave full of snakes and is bitten and Rooster rides in desperation to where he knows she will get appropriate help. She recovers but loses an arm.

Twenty five years later Mattie gets a note from Rooster with a hand bill saying that he is performing in a Wild West Show nearby. She visits only to find that he died a few days before her arrival. She arranges for the coffin to be moved to the family plot on the family farm. She reflects on their adventure together.

Although the film was nominated for 10 awards at the Oscars and 8 at the Bafta’s it only won the Cinematic Bafta. This is one of the rare situations where both films can be enjoy and stand alongside each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment