Which True Grit Has More Grit?

Those of you who regularly read my reviews should know how impressed I was by the Coen brothers’ version of True Grit.  This should mean something extra since I’m not a fan of their work, as a general rule.

The original True Grit, which came out in 1969, is rather typical of the era.  It was also changed from the book to become more of a showcase for John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn.  And yet, Jeff Bridges is a more believable Cogburn, even though the new version focuses more on the young girl (as the book does).

I also have trouble with Kim Darby as Mattie Ross.  The character is supposed to be about fourteen years old.  Darby was either twenty-one or twenty-two when she played the part.  On the other hand, Hailee Steinfeld was either thirteen or fourteen when she played the part in the new Grit.  Her acting was impressive and gave the story more depth.

The original True Grit is almost cuter, in a sense.  It’s too clean and sanitized.  The new True Grit is more realistic.  It is therefore harsher and grittier (no pun intended).  It is also more believable.  Because the original is tamer, some people might prefer it, I suppose.  However, I found the updated version to be a breath of fresh air in an era of many lame movies.  It is one I will watch repeatedly.

So I must say, well done, Joel and Ethan Coen.