Film: True Grit (2010)

directors: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
length: something
watched on: 4/3

Argh… so I’ve neglected to update this blog for almost a full three weeks and it’s basically because this film had such a low impact on me. I was so underwhelmed by it that I forgot to try and think of anytihng decent to say about it.

I think I was primed to dislike it, though. A friend pointed out before we went in that when she saw it there was a scene where the girl wades through a river, but comes out dry, and that’s just bad continuity. I feel sure that the Coen brothers were probably trying to do something “edgy” or “weird”, but it didn’t really fit with the context. She was right, of course; the girl’s not wet, and it’s all too blatant once it’s pointed out (I hesitate to declare that I would have noticed it if she hadn’t pointed it out – I reckon probably not…).

So the rest of the film was basically Jeff Bridges mumbling through an incomprehensible accent and trying his hardest not to come off as The Dude. And wearing a stupid eyepatch. So I missed half his lines of dialogue and didn’t really connect with much of the film.

What else? Oh yeah, the girl annoyed me no end. Actually, it’s not just her but every other character in the film talking in what the Coen brothers probably think is 19th century English, which involves never saying “don’t” and “can’t”, but always “do not” and “cannot”. That got particularly annoying after a while… I could sort of believe it from the girl’s rather prim and proper attitude, but not from Jeff Bridges’ character.

And another annoying thing was the snakes that show up at the end to extend the suspense long after it should have been over. Oh well.

I suppose it was kind of interesting when I remembered something I heard about the conventions of the Western genre, namely that the villain should always be in the black hat and ride from right to left, so that audiences could tell from a glance who he was. The ultimate in lazy viewing. Of course, in our modern Western this is combined with a propensity for anti-heroes and Jeff Bridges is dressed this way. Wayhay, convention broken!!!!! That must mean this is an amazing film!!!!!

You know, if I actually knew or cared about the Western genre more I’d probably spot millions of these – those pesky Coen brothers are always trying to be so Subversive. But I don’t, I really don’t care for the genre, I’ve never watched a Western before and I don’t know anything about the genre. I haven’t seen the previous film that this one may be based on (with John Wayne). I feel that I probably don’t have enough context for the film to make much sense to me. But what difference does context make when the main character mumbles so goddamn much?

Also, why is it so impossible to find a still of this film that’s not Jeff Bridges and the girl looking moronic? The one I did find I feel is a rather poor substitute. If I remember correctly, that’s the villain in the picture, anyway. Kind of exemplifies the girl’s typically-blank expression quite well, I think.


2 Responses to Film: True Grit (2010)

  1. James Jarvis says:

    Hmm, I quite liked a couple of things in this review. I didn’t notice the whole wet/dry thing myself when I saw the movie, and I will admit Bridges’ accent is pretty funny. Plus the “cannot/can’t” thing bugged me a little, too.

    But there’s a couple of things I’d just like to bring up that might help make sense of some of the odder bits of the film:

    The snake is a necessary part of the story, and plays into another western convention: the death of the villain does not necessarily mean the end of the story/the final challenge. Other films such as “The Man From Laramie” or “The Searchers” are good examples of this. The real point of the movie is not killing the bad guy, it’s showing just how much “sand” the heroine actually possesses in contrast with Cogburn’s attempts to save her.

    Also, the bad guy tropes? They almost never appear in “real” westerns, just in simplified kid’s westerns from the 1950s, especially not the black hat. And the modern propensity for tough, quiet, sharpshooting anti-heroes who don’t have many friends was actually started by a western (A Fistful of Dollars) in the first place. Bridges’ appearance might have been edgy and subversive in the 40s, but today it’s rather average for a marshall-cum-gunfighter. Scars (to give the character credence), longcoat (to conceal his sidearm of choice), Colt Navy and Winchester rifle (versatile weapons, good for a man in the wilds). The most subversive thing about Bridges’ character is that he actually has a heart of sorts, which is rare among gunslingers in a post-Leone western.

    Nor is he the main character, any more than Aragorn was the central character of The Lord of the Rings. He’s the most noticeable character, sure, and the one that most western fans will like best, but the important difference between this version and the John Wayne version is that the older film actually is all about Cogburn, rather than his young charge.

    So yeah, I enjoyed the film immensely as a westerns fan, and (thankfully) it’s nothing like the John Wayne version, which is a massive departure from the original novel.

    But then, it’d be a boring world if we all enjoyed the same things.

    And I shall certainly watch out for the sudden-drying coat when I buy the DVD :-)

  2. Finlay says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, and that a major part of me not enjoying the film is not being familiar with the genre. But that’s how it goes, isn’t it?

    I guess the other thing I neglected to mention was that it’s such obvious oscar-bait that it makes me cringe. ;)

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