Sound Off: The Coen Brothers' 'True Grit' - What Do You Think?
by Alex Billington
December 26, 2010
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? Retribution. The Coen Brothers are back once again with their 15th feature film - True Grit - a re-adaptation of the original Charles Portis novel that was adapted in 1969 into the John Wayne western. It's the first time the brothers have worked with Jeff Bridges since The Big Lebowski in '98 and they almost gave up until they found 14-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld to star as Mattie Ross. So how is it? Is it one of the Coens' best films or one of their worst? What was your favorite part (acting, visuals, story)? If you've seen it, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on True Grit!
Notice: For reference, every Sound Off article we publish automatically contains a SPOILER warning for all content "below the jump" or anything below this paragraph, even though I always try to keep spoilers to a minimum in my own thoughts, however they occasionally slip through. It is meant to be an open and free place to discuss, with spoilers, your thoughts on a film after seeing it. Please be aware of this in the future.
To fuel the fire, I've seen the Coen Bros' True Grit twice (but haven't seen the original or read the book) and I like it a lot, but it's not my favorite movie of the year by any means and it is definitely not the best movie of the year - it's just not that good. Joel and Ethan are some of the best technical filmmakers, so there's always plenty to admire, but I felt the story just seemed a bit simple. I'm probably going to get crap for saying that, but it was just a very basic revenge story, no twists, she just kills him and that's that. I loved all of the actors, especially Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges, and even Hailee Steinfeld held her own. My biggest problems lie in the overly abrupt and pay-off-less ending, but that seems to be something the Coens are fond of these days.
What did you think of the Coen Bros' True Grit? A new western classic or a boring "remake"?
Reader Feedback - 61 Comments
I loved it, but I can see what you mean by simplicity.
Dustin Fuston on Dec 26, 2010
Loved it. Great movie. Didn't mind the simplicity.
Jason on Dec 26, 2010
Its SUPPOSED to be simple. It is a simple story. They couldnt go crazy with it because of the original. I am not sorry to say I will watch Jeff Bridges play Rooster over John Wayne ("gasp") any day of the week.
Christina on Dec 26, 2010
Fan-damn-tastic! Simple yes so was the original. loved how Tom Cheney actually was, a simpleton. The lines were fantastic, especially the "The pit is a hundred feet deep and I'll throw you in it!" and the whole drunken showing off part. Bridges was excellent. Damon was excellent. Steinfeld was fantastic. Pepper was excellent. Brolin was excellent. The Humor was superb. Direction was great. Cinematography was outstanding. Score was perfect. Overall another solid film by the Coen bros. 8/10
Xerxex on Dec 26, 2010
I agree completely. it did not meet expectations I wanted to see more, but I still enjoyed it's not the coen bros best movie but it's worth seeing
Pulp fiction212 on Dec 26, 2010
Kevin on Dec 26, 2010
The performances were all fantastic, the western feel set pieces etc all what youd expect from a Coen bros film. I can see what you mean about the simplicity Alex but it didnt bother me at all. It was a perfect classic western story nothing more, weve been missing those a lot in the last decade.
Cody w on Dec 26, 2010
Your critique of the film is spot on. The plot is simple and I kept waiting for the ironic twists of a Cohen Brothers film. The plot is what it is-through no fault of the film makers. Jeff Bridges is as fine an actor as there is. Matt Damon, while no Glen Campbell?! can flat out act. The young lady was riveting. Good film-Not great. I will see it again.
gordy rutman on Dec 26, 2010
Wow Alex...kind of a big spoiler there for those who haven't seen the original.
peloquin on Dec 26, 2010
From the first note of that beautiful score to the very end I had a smile on my face. So did my two sons. I'm going to go see it again and take my wife, only this time I'll laugh a lot more. It wasn't until the movie was over and I recalled all of those wonderful scenes that I thought to myself "Hey, that was funny!" It's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Jeff Bridges desrves an Oscar.
Gadabout on Dec 26, 2010
It really wasn't that good. Slow. Damon and Bridges were funny and good. The girl was annoying. No 14-year-old is that smart. You didn't feel for any of the characters really. Josh Brolin was barely in the movie. Some bad guy... You can't really hate him b/c you barely know him. The scene where we meet Jeff Bridges in the courtroom was way too long and boring. We can learn what type of character he is a lot quicker, easier, and in a more fun way than that.
Jjoe on Dec 26, 2010
I've come to hate the Coen's endings. They suddenly end the freakin' movie abruptly and that's it. They should try a different thing for once...
leinergroove on Dec 26, 2010
Loved it. I am a very hard to please movie goer (rarely go). I'm an old man who can't relate to most of today’s movies. I liked the John Wayne version but like this one better. The Cohen Bros have kept more in line with the book and the way people were of the time (no pretty boys with a perfect set of teeth). No cursing, except for two instances that was appropriate for the book. It isn’t the best of the Cohen’s but it may possibly make the top 5. The early matinee was packed. Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic, Jeff Bridges is very good, as is Brolin and Pepper.
John Newell on Dec 26, 2010
Completely agreed. I walked out of the theater enjoying the film, yet I felt like there was a third act completely missing from True Grit. @#12 So I take it you've never seen a Coen Brothers' film then?
SkaOreo on Dec 26, 2010
#13, i agree. but i did LOVE the ending to no country. and thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes yesterday.
Jesus on Dec 26, 2010
i would say 'spoilers' but in the end i think EVERYONE figured she would kill him
Jericho on Dec 26, 2010
i liked it. but It was not a top 5 movie of the year for me. Reason why? Well, the entire time the film lacked a strong dramatic conflict. The energy of the film and the character interaction downplayed the importance of finding Tom Chaney. On another note, though, Jeff Bridges' performance was genius. You can tell he had a lot of fun doing that like Heath did with the Joker.
talli on Dec 26, 2010
Awesome film. Simple yes but sometimes I just want to be entertained with a good story and some beautiful scenery. I have to think hard enough at work, I don't aways want to pay money and then try to sort out someone else's subjective nonsense and dead-end sidebars. That's just meaningless filler most of time. Loved this show and highly recommend it.
GFM on Dec 26, 2010
What's wrong with simple? The Coen brothers set out to make a good, simple, old-fashioned western that was faithful to the book. If they did that well, then it's a success. Sure it may not be a favorite film of the Barton Fink, A Serious Man type of fans, but I don't see how it being one of their more conventional films being a big problems. Why must their be big jumpy twists for a film to be enjoyable? It's just because it's the Coen brothers that people set these expectations they didn't need to set. And another thing, I'm glad the Coens have a huge hit on their hands because it does allow them more clout and freedom to do more personal pieces like A Serious Man.
Tameka on Dec 26, 2010
I really enjoyed it but I can agree with you on the ending. Same thing happened with A Simple Man. Enjoying the film then BAM! roll credits.
Chris on Dec 26, 2010
Joe its the old west, kids were forced to grow up and become adults at a young age, or die.
Xerxex on Dec 26, 2010
As for the movie itself, for those that needed or wanted more, one should render EXPECTATIONS null and void when entering the theater. Expectations can ruin someones movie experience. Besides having read the book and seen the original, this story was exactly the way it needed to be IMO. But then again, I wasn't expecting this to be something it wasn't. IMO they made True Grit even better than the original. I couldn't ask for anything more. The acting was superb, the landscape was good, the story moved and flowed well, so for me, it was a great movie.
Nicc on Dec 26, 2010
Loved it... girlfriend on the other hand had a little too much to drink and fell asleep about 20min in, although she would have loved it too... gonna marry that girl. that's right. consider this a pre-proposal and y'all are now witnesses to the testament. It's settled then. Film: 9/10 Girlfriends timely little snores adding yet another thick texture to an already rich Christmas Day movie experience: 10.5/10
Nick S. on Dec 26, 2010
is the ending of No Country for Old Men considered "overly abrupt and pay-off-less ending?"
Pekpek on Dec 26, 2010
I think people are way off calling it just a simple film. The dialogue was superb and intricate. The charaters showed many dimensions, but most importantly every male character represented the dynamic that make a man. They are represented who Matti's dad was to her. This is a movie about revenge, but I believe it's even more about daughter/father relationships viewed in a socio-political context. I don't think I'm really looking into it that much, but you all should give the Coens' a little more credit!
emceegreg on Dec 26, 2010
Truly awful. I mean, I like Jeff Bridges. A lot. But to listen to him channeling Billy Bob Thornton from Sling Blade for two hours is a bit much. The film was wildly inconsistent. The ending was a deus ex machina. And the girl was so unbelievable...just snotty...not clever. I dunno...I wanted this to be the film of the year. It wouldn't even make it in my straight-to-DVD pile.
Frank on Dec 26, 2010
havent seen it yet :X
A5J4DX on Dec 26, 2010
i thought the movie was so bad i rented the original 5 min after i saw it. the duke is the best ever. case closed.
ned pepper on Dec 26, 2010
Alex you are off your rocker, this is one of the best movies of the year, I don't know what more you want out of it. Its definitely better than the original and Jeff Bridges should be nominated for his portrayal of Cogburn, and #28 you are an idiot for criticizing Jeff Bridges voice, that's what he is suppose to sound like. So far for me its the best movie of the year besides Inception
andrew on Dec 26, 2010
SO overrated. Unnecessary and tedious scenes (Jeff Bridges' courtroom intro/Steinfeld's arguing with the guy about the ponies, etc.) really took away from the film and left me wondering when the actual movie would begin. Bridges, Damon and Brolin were excellent. Surprised the Coen Brothers did this. Cannot see what all the fuss is about.
Rex on Dec 26, 2010
The Coen brothers are great storytellers, save the bullshit "technical filmmakers" for David Fincher and Christopher Nolan who can't tell a human story with a pulse to save their lives.
LINKFX on Dec 26, 2010
I loved this movie! I personally enjoyed the simplicity of the story because it allowed the coens to add their personal humor and it opened up the characters to shine with great acting like (#32) Jeff Bridges' courtroom intro/Steinfeld's arguing with the guy about the ponies. Maybe with today's special effect filled action films we have lost sight of great film making but the coen's re-installment of true grit is really a great example of the right directors, right story and the right actors coming together to produce a great film. I would also like to comment on the stellar performance of Haliee Steinfeld in the role of mattie ross. The role she played represents the love she had for her father. The fact she persevered through the gritty midwestern winter to find and bring her fathers killer to justice doesn't make her snotty or unbelievable when you look at the context of the time period. That was what the character could do to honor her father. Their is a difference between determination and being simply obstinate. Also, for this being her first major film, Haliee was fantastic. She tackled the hard vernacular with ease and held her own against these huge hollywood stars. It was absolutely beautiful. All in all, the acting, humor, and simple beauty of True Grit made it one of my all time favorites
Jacquie on Dec 26, 2010
What a great movie!! I wanted to turn around, buy another ticket and watch it again, and I will!! I'm sick of the fockers and stupid movies like that. Thanks Joel and Ethan!!!!!!!!
fastnlo on Dec 26, 2010
was ok... and Coen Bros r so overrated....I don;t get the hype they have...I mean they make good Hollywood movies, but Hollywood Produces 99% of the world's crap movies ! Gp watch the King's Speech...that's the best Movie of this year
Kaiser on Dec 26, 2010
i haven't seen this yet - but i DID just get done seeing "the kings speech" earlier this evening and #36 is correct: "kings speech" is easily the best movie of the year.
beavis on Dec 26, 2010
Agree with everything Xerxex said, except I'd give it a 9/10 overall. I just loved it so freakin much.
Chazzy on Dec 26, 2010
Also wanna say Damons performance deserves note, not because it was anything riveting but it simply I guess solidifies Damon as just one of the greats. I feel like he pulled off this performance in his sleep.
Cody w on Dec 26, 2010
true grit was a great movie, i loved it and one can say it is better than the original
dahmer on Dec 26, 2010
True Grit was in every sense better than the original. It's hard in this day and age for a remake to top the original, but the Coen Brothers did it. I know simplicity isn't much when considering a movie to be one of the best of the year, but True Grit is an exception because it's downright beautiful. Second best movie I've seen this year. Everyone needs to see it!!
Sean J. on Dec 26, 2010
@4 how is everyone excellent or superb and you give it an 8...? Fail.
David on Dec 27, 2010
"The Coen brothers are great storytellers, save the bullshit "technical filmmakers" for David Fincher and Christopher Nolan who can't tell a human story with a pulse to save their lives." THANK YOU! You got it so right. The thing that bugs me about reviewers and critics is they judge a film based on preconceived perceptions of the filmmakers. They see the Coen brothers as smug, pranksters and becuase they're films lack the in your face sentimentality, some reviewers just call them technical filmmakers. That's bull. The Coen brothers as you said are phenenomenal storytellers. You critics and bloggers shouldn't be walking in and judging with any expectations anyway. Because if it were an unkown Joe Schmoe who directed the movie, your critique would totally different. Give credit to the Coens for being great storytellers again and again.
Tameka on Dec 27, 2010
Because an eight is relatively high, a 10 is perfection and a 9 is blazing glory...True Grit wasn't perfection or blazing glory....it was too short therefore it loses a point...so it gets an 8, it wasn't long enough. so in essence a 10: Perfect, no flaws. a 9: Glorious, minuscule flaws. an 8: Superb, some flaws (I.e. too short). it makes sense. thanks Chazzy!
Xerxex on Dec 27, 2010
It's a western. It's supposed to be simple. IMNSHO: Best western since Unforgiven. Which makes it the 2nd best western in the last forty + years. Not a bad performance in the bunch of characters. Everything from the soundtrack to the visual was excellent. Ending was good. And true. Time does catch up with everyone.
Hocking Hick on Dec 27, 2010
#45 - to be fair - i haven't seen it yet - but.........the last 40 YEARS? there is NO way it beats tombstone? and what about pale rider? (although some might say it's not technically a western) what about high plains drifter? outlaw josie wales? the missing? the shootist?..............come on internet sensationalists - i'm not so sure i'd put unforgiven at #1 although it'd make my top 4 for sure( i think clints best western was either pale rider or outlaw josie wales). i know these lists will vary wildly due to a persons age; personal taste (i LOVE quick and the dead but i know most people didn't care for it) and how much they follow movies; but, calling this movie (a remake at that) a top western in the last 40 years over the films i've just named just seems like too much.
beavis on Dec 27, 2010
@ tameka, you rock!
LINKFX on Dec 27, 2010
I just watched Unforgiven for the first time. Honestly I was disappointed. The guy who played the Schofield kid could not act worth a darn. It just was not that good of a western. I was shocked that it won best picture. Now on to True Grit: I really enjoyed this movie, but it was not really a western. It was a character portrait that just happens to take place in the 1800's. So if you love interesting characters and dialogue seemingly straight out of the period, you will love True Grit. However, if you like menacing bad guys, revenge pay-offs, and characters transforming in crisis, don't expect that here. The Coens are all about the characters. And these are delicious to soak up. Especially the no-name small parts who oozed with authenticity. Just don't expect the typical western movie conventions. They aren't here. As for the best western in the last 40 years? Unquestionably, I give it to 3:10 To Yuma. As for second place- Silverado, Open Range, and Tombstone come to mind. But you really have to give credit to Silverado for re-energizing the genre. It ended a long drought.
Nate on Dec 27, 2010
nate - you mean the newer version of 3:10 to yuma?.........it wouldn't make my top 5. watch the original version to see how good that movie is. i do like silverado - a really fun watch.
beavis on Dec 27, 2010
I liked the movie, but yeah i feel that the ending was missing a little umph to it and felt that they just decided to end it because i didn't really feel that there was much of a climax and that there wasn't a lot of suspense building at the end and, to me, it didn't really feel like it ended and it and in the end it was just missing something. overall, good movie, could have used a much better ending i'll give it an 8/10
max s. on Dec 27, 2010
LMAO @ editing my post and removing something I posted... Discussion and disagreement is something I always relished from this site. Apparently that is no longer something to look forward to. Shame, but I'll find another site to debate movie related inof without being censored, or in fear of "upsetting" the OP...
Nicc on Dec 27, 2010
i agree with u alex. it was meh. having never seen the original either (gasp) the trailer made this film into something it wasnt for me, and i felt totally unsatisfied. i was looking for a western no country for old men but got something else. it wasnt bad but just wasnt that amazing as everyone is saying. as always visually it was incredible (come on it was shot by deakins) but yea all i can say is meh
blaise on Dec 28, 2010
I had not seen the original so I am not about to compare the two & which is better. I will say that I was throughly entertained with this film. This is not my favorite Coen Bros. film, but it is up in my Top 5! I wouldn't mind seeing Jeff Bridges win back to back Oscars, but that's just my opinion! I love some of the comments here too. Especially the people who forget this is a movie, and no movie will ever be perfect to everyone. No need to be so nit picky. I just discovered this website and I have it bookmarked. Great job.
Big J Unit on Dec 28, 2010
I feel like many people have a hard time with this film because they are so used to being spoonfed an A+B=C story with all the gizmos and gadgets thrown in. The Coen bros were not trying to get everyone to leave the theater discussing plot scenarios or how things could have been different. The story was almost proverbial or fable like in its telling. It was about the characters and how they reacted to their enviorment and/or situation. Steinfeld blew me away for such a young actress. Bridges is classic, much like Wayne, but different, not better or worse. Damon played it well (very nice to see a movie where he isn't in Boston...) I left the theater with a good feeling. It was a feel good movie in some sense. Very real and very tangible. Overall 8.5-9/10. (Bridges must be rolling in money having put this out and Tron... man I wish I was the dude) Glad too see something other than all this 3D garbage. Only part I disliked was having to see a Transformers trailer in the previews... Michael Bay sucks.
Zen on Dec 28, 2010
I think people are trying too hard to rip this film apart, simply because it was made by the Coen Brothers. It was very entertaining and the story although not complex was very enjoyable. The trailers made it out to be a simple story and I felt that I got what I expected in terms of that when I watched the film. It was a young girl out to get revenge accompanied by a couple of colorful characters. Mission accomplished. What made the movie a solid 9/10 for me, were the fantastic performances by the ever consistent Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld who stole the show hands down. I would have liked to have seen a little more tension build up between Brolin's character and Steinfeld, but I left the theater feeling something I rarely did in 2010...."enjoyment."
. on Dec 29, 2010
With all the crap being shot out of the studios these days it's refreshing to see such a fine film. It was everything I expected and I can't wait to see it again.
Pete on Dec 29, 2010
Great film! I loved every minute of it!
reborninfire on Dec 29, 2010
Liked it a LOT. Simple indeed. Superb acting/direction/production/screenplay/cinematography/etc. How that all equaled a ho-hum good movie puzzles me. SPOILER... could've done without the horse violence/abuse at the end - that was a pretty cheap circus trick imo. I'm kind of an animal nut though, so probably fine for everybody else. Carry on!
bozo on Dec 29, 2010
This was a great film. While the dialogue is a bit beyond the vocabulary of the commonplace populace of the time, it is very Coen Brotherish, almost reminiscent of Shakespeare. I love that most of the score were variations of old hymns. The only criticism I have is that I'm unsure why so many characters chose to talk with a "mushed-mouth" accent. My father might be one of the biggest fans of the western genre, having seen hundreds and hundreds of the silent/20's/30's/40's b and c westerns, as well as tv shows and doing tons of research. He said that he felt that Rooster was not Wayne's best acting and the Oscar was more so one for his previous roles. He loved this Rooster and felt this film was better than the original. I think that it was one of the best films I've seen in a while. Damon and Steinfeld deserve Oscars for their roles. Bridges does as well, but not sure that an award would be given for a role someone has already won an Oscar for. However you role the dice, this is just more proof of the brilliance of the Coens and Bridges. It also goes to show that the western genre is still far from dead.
Randol on Dec 30, 2010
The acting and dialogue were great but I found the story to be a bit aimless. Had less time been spent with Bridges and Damon arguing and more time focusing on the story of capturing Brolin then the ending may have had more payoff.
Moon on Jan 1, 2011
I loved this movie a lot. I give it a 8.75/10 and it was my favorite of the year until I saw The Fighter.
Peace Love & GaGa on Jan 4, 2011
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