“True Grit” (2010)
dir. Coen Brothers
The film on the whole is a slick one, boasting high production values in design, wardrobe, casting, performance, cinematography, etc. but suffers from two insurmountable flaws that prevent it from going beyond its trappings as an amusing tale of adventure.
First, it is a chatty western, with nearly every character getting a mouthful of colourful dialogue to match their handle-bar mustaches and period dress. Every second scene features long-winded exchanges between parties or rambling dialogues, heavy on the exposition, with little dramatic value to speak of. Additionally, the pacing for the dialogue is off. A little rushed even. As if the actors were asked to pick it up so as not to slow down the film and so we get little time to appreciate their rehearsed, stylized speak.
Second, we never feel like the protagonists are in any kind of danger. We see they are in trouble, no doubt – people shoot and stab at them – but never do we, the audience, believe the bullets will do any real damage or derail their plans in any significant way. Without any real tension or suspense, there is little for us to invest ourselves in. Coupled with the aforementioned dialogue, which never seems to cease, the film becomes a picturesque but overlong tale of revenge; amusing, and often entertaining but never satisfying.
Jeff Bridges gives a remarkable performance as the gruff marshal but the character is too likable to be believable and its too similar to Bridge’s recent Oscar-winning role as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” Altogether the film is a fine production by the Coens who, in the past, have delivered more innovative work.