One more package left to shake, rattle and weigh as the season wraps up, and I promise you it’s a doozy. If you listened to this week’s episode of the Moviegasm podcast, you know that Sasha, Craig and I enjoyed True Girt immensely. You’ll be hearing from critics how it’s not typical Coen brothers, but let me assure you that should only be an issue if you had wished for typical Fincher or typical Aronofsky this year too. Foremost among the movies many pleasures are the outstanding performances, which will methodically knock your socks off.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
The best of the new True Grit (in theaters Dec. 22) comes from the actors who bring their vivid characters to life. It’s crucial for the man who plays the amoral, gun-waving Cogburn to wallow without embarrassment in ornery seediness, even in front of a fatherless girl. With an Oscar under his armpit for drunken dissolution in Crazy Heart, Bridges is that man. Likewise, the girl who plays Mattie had better have the sand to face down the Roosters of the world and grow into the steely older woman who narrates the story. With her resolute dark eyes and plainspoken poise, Steinfeld holds the screen with believable adolescent fierceness. As for LaBoeuf, well, this isn’t the first time recently that I’ve delighted at how Damon has become one of Hollywood’s most enjoyable, versatile actors. I’m happy every time I see him, and he’s a great costar here, flavoring his LaBoeuf ‚Äî pronounced La Beef, if you please ‚Äî with a piquant seasoning of Ranger vanity, bounty-hunting avarice, and Dudley Do-Right earnestness.
Pete Hammond, Box Office Magazine
Smartly emphasizing Portis’ quirky dialogue and dark comic tone, the Coens show the flare that made them famous… Purists may wonder ‚ÄòWhy the remake?’ but after seeing it will wonder no more. Although westerns have been few and far between in recent years, audiences and Coen fans should rally around this one with good, if not spectacular, box office success.
Centered around 14 year old Mattie’s determination to find justice for her father’s death, this character-based western gives attention to Portis’ memorable exchanges and dialogue instead of hyped-up action scenes, (though there are plenty, particularly in the final third). Mattie, played in a no-nonsense way by scene stealing Steinfeld, is a true original: she’s independent, fiercely proud and endowed with a take-no-prisoners attitude… The Coens have been stringently faithful to the book and their brilliant writing sounds natural coming out of the mouths of these colorful, oddball characters. Unlike the 1969 film, this version adheres closely to the spirit of the book, though the violence and the more over-the-top comic elements have been subdued in service of a PG-13 rating. Regardless, Coen aficionados will not be disappointed.
Marshall Fine, Hollywood & Fine:
‚ÄúTrue Grit‚Äù is superb, one of the best movies of the year and one that shows other filmmakers just how a western should be made.