Tuesday, January 25, 2011

True Grit (2010)

This is the kind of movie that I loved right up until the ending, when it made me go,
"Huh? That was it?" That is to say, it's a very entertaining and well done film that I'm glad I saw and I recommend, but I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. But that has pretty much been my opinion of every film written and directed by the Coen Brothers.

Jeff Bridges, of course, is the best American actor currently working today. Nobody will dispute this, not even the people who might not completely agree. He is just at the top of his field and at the head of his game, and True Grit features his most fun performance since he last teamed up with the Coen Brothers for the Big Lebowski. This movie is no Lebowski (which is the one Coen Brothers film I agree is brilliant), but Bridges is incredible and incredibly fun to watch. Also good were that girl and Matt Damon, but this was Bridges's film to be sure.

About the story I can say very little because there isn't much to say at all. A girl's father is murdered, so she hires a marshal to track down the killer. And that's it. It's a perfectly fine plot around which to base a film (and by Western standards, it's practically epic), but I still couldn't help feeling underwhelmed. I like the lead role, but only because the actress's performance was so charming and spirited. We never saw her father, so the search for his killer never offered much emotional resonance. It was just a long trip where people had funny conversations, and occasionally somebody got shot.

I have never seen the original film nor the novel upon which both films were based, but I can't help but feel that this film was some how missing... something. At the end of the day, I didn't care about the characters, the story was uninspiring, and nothing that happened really captured my interest at all. I enjoyed the scenery, the snappy dialogue, and the performances by the actors, but I wish the same characters and setting had been involved in a movie that was more interesting and emotionally fulfilling.

As Westerns go, however, it was beautifully shot and expertly filmed. The Coen Brothers set up shots the same way they write dialogue: with intense care and attention to detail. This is a fantastic looking film with a lot of thrilling set pieces. The second half of the film did drag on, in my opinion, and the entire coda at the end was pointless and awkward.

But it's still a pretty good western with a few wonderful acting performances, so it's definitely worth watching.


aak said...

I'll see it eventually.

When did you come around on Lebowski?

Justin Garrett Blum said...

"But that has pretty much been my opinion of every film written and directed by the Coen Brothers."

Haven't seen True Grit, but I was thinking something similar even before you said it. At least, I distinctly recall thinking that at the end of No Country for Old Men.

Not to hate on them...they make movies well from a certain perspective. And I did like Lebowski and some others.

Donald said...

I feel as though I hate on them a lot more than I should, but that's only because they are beloved at lot more than I think they deserve. I don't mind when people love them, I just don't understand how they became the kinds of filmmakers that people simply taken for granted that everything they do is genius, since much of what they do, in my opinion, sucks.

When they are great, they're great though, as in Lebowski. And I never didn't like it, so I don't think I had to come around. If I said anything disparaging about it in the past, it was probably just because it got lumped in with the rest of their oeuvre.

Just for the record, I love that movie, as well as Raising Arizona. I also think Miller's Crossing is a very good attempt at a gangster movie that has a lot of great moments, even though it goes on way too long and peters out at the end. Fargo is also very funny and entertaining. But Oscar worthy?