I’ve heard alot of good things about the films of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. Unfortunately, the only ones I have been able to see are Raising Arizona, and the forgettable The Ladykillers. True Grit is easily the best of the ones I have seen, and it excites me to watch their previous work such as No Country for Old Men and Burn after Reading.
In case you didn’t know, the plot is fashioned after the 1968 novel of the same name by Travis Porter, and the 1969 film directed by Henry Hathaway and starring legendary cowboy, John Wayne. The story is told through the eyes of Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a fourteen-year old girl, settling her recently murdered father’s affairs. This later turns into enlisted the help of Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) to burn murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to justice.
What surprised me most of True Grit, is how true to the western genre it felt. There were no gimmicks (I’m looking at you Cowboys & Aliens) or non-stop action to keep the viewer on the edge of their seats. Sure, the violence was ramped up to keep with today’s audience, but the grand journey for vengeance felt like classic John Wayne fare.
Beyond the excellent script, action, and scenery, the best thing that stood out in my mind is the acting. Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn held the perfect balance to washed up drunk and loyal Marshall of the law. Meanwhile Josh Brolin (who is only in about half the movie) shows us a perfect example of a dim-witted criminal. And, of course, what would this be without mentioning fourteen year old Hailee Steinfeld as the strong and stubborn but also very frightened girl looking for justice. The role was played as well as it possibly could. One of the best performances by any young actor or actress that I have ever seen.