A belated review of True Grit (and a very English complaint)

I hated Brokeback Mountain. It wasn’t the storyline, or the cinematography, or the vast majority of the acting. My major gripe with the film was the ENDLESS MUMBLING. I can cope with accents, trust me – I’ll gladly sit through Trainspotting, Local Hero or The Commitments. Even foreign language films don’t faze me – The Motorcycle Diaries, Amelie and a good portion of Almodovar’s films I can list amongst some of my favourites: at least they have the common decency to provide subtitles.

But PLEASE, America: STOP MUMBLING.

Say what you like about it adding realism to gay cowboys or alcoholic-gunmen-Jeff Bridges, but it does not benefit the film in any way. This very English complaint aside, however, True Grit is a pretty decent film.

Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as an ass-kickingly awesome 14-year-old girl looking to avenge her father’s death outshines pretty much all the big names in the film. She gives a confident and consistent performance, although her role may be enhanced by the fact every other character in True Grit is, basically, an unlikeable prick. Bridges isn’t bad, but Rooster Cogburn is perhaps a little tame, considering this is the dude who played The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Matt Damon is, on the other hand, surprisingly entertaining. Considering this is the dude who played every character Matt Damon has ever played. Widely advertised as starring in True Grit, Josh Brolin barely makes an appearance – a shame given his last Coen brothers outing, the excellent No Country For Old Men.

And herein lies the problem. It’s only been a few years since Joel and Ethan made NCFOM, which was an updated take on the Western (and had Javier Bardem’s frighteningly brilliant Anton Chigurh). The mumble-core was barely an issue here, since the adaptation from Cormac McCarthy’s sparse, descriptive style of writing left little room for dialogue. Shot without a soundtrack, No Country For Old Men is almost iconic – True Grit is generic at best, and it’s sad to have to say this about a Coen brothers film, since so few film-makers have given us such a high quality of movies than this duo.

Anyway, enough empty rhetoric. The ending is satisfying, even if this in itself is disappointing from what we’ve come to expect from Coen & Coen. Is it? No, that’s just stupid. No Country For Old Men had an abrupt, unsatisfying ending. Burn After Reading had an ending that was perfectly fitting for the clusterfuck of a storyline that film was, but ultimately left you scratching your head wondering just what had happened.

So yeah. The girl’s good, the guys all mumble too much, MOAR JOSH BROLIN NEEDED, decent ending, and still a very good film. To paraphrase from Office Space: “I’ll be honest with you, I love their films, I do. I’m a Coen brothers fan.” But this doesn’t feel like one of theirs. Worth a watch though.

[MIXED MESSAGES END]

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About merlinlondon

Cynical but loveable wannabe journalist with a keen interest in music and the arts in general. Ignorant yet highly opinionated about most things. Mostly liberal with occasional fascist tendencies, usually concerning Coldplay, Crocs or other crimes against the developed world. Amateur photographer and even more amateur singer/songwriter.
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