True Grit: Two Movies and a Novel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although I was a fan of the John Wayne movie based on this novel, I’d never read the book before. When the latest film incarnation with Jeff Bridges was released, I dug up a copy of the novel and read it before going to see the movie.
The critics were right. The Coen brothers version does follow the novel more closely than the first movie, particularly in some key spots that I won’t tell you about. I hate giving things away.
There is, however, one major section where the story departs from the book, and I can’t figure out why. There is no reason structurally or story-wise that it should be changed (even the John Wayne version followed the novel here). I won’t tell you which part it is, either. But it really doesn’t make that big of difference. It’s just odd, and I actually do like the Jeff Bridges True Grit better than the John Wayne version. And Matt Damon, who plays LaBoeuf in the Coen brothers version, is a better actor than Glen Campbell. Sorry, Glen. Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Mattie Ross, also gives a commendable performance in her first major motion picture role.
Enough prattling about the movies. The book is an easy and an enjoyable read with strong characters and action. It is one of those genre novels that rises above its genre. I highly recommend it.