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What the Flick: True Grit

Some people are terribly offended by the temerity of the Coen Brothers remaking a classic western such as True Grit. But here’s the thing, folks: The original wasn’t so great.

There. I said it.

Sure, the role was written for John Wayne, and when I was a kid, well, I thought John Wayne was pretty cool. But True Grit wasn’t a perfect movie as it was, Glen Campbell didn’t make a very good Texas Ranger, and I wasn’t a big fan of Kim Darby. So, I relished the chance to see a retelling of this story by a couple of filmmakers whose work I almost always enjoy.

Their vision of True Grit didn’t disappoint. It’s darker and sadder than the original, but it also has a good deal more genuine humor, plus some fantastic visuals.

Jeff Bridges does a commendable job chewing gravel as Rooster Cogburn. Matt Damon brings some new dimensions to the role of the Texas Ranger who throws in his lot with the marshal on the hunt for Tom Chaney and Lucky Ned Pepper’s gang. Barry Pepper, who plays Ned, seems to be in the running for heir apparent Future Harry Dean Stanton. But the real star of the movie is a newcomer named Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the street-wise Mattie Ross with a sharp tongue and a keen intellect.

It doesn’t exceed Unforgiven as my favorite western of all time, but the Coen Brothers’s True Grit comes a close second, edging out 3:10 to Yuma.

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