REVIEW: True Grit

“If you would like to sleep in a coffin, it would be all right.” – the Undertaker

PG-13, 2 hr. 8 min. Directed by: Ethan & Joel Coen Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin

Rating: A

What It’s (Bullheadedly) About: Fourteen year old spitfire Maddie Ross (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) teams up with U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to avenge her father, a good man killed by one of his workers Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Chaney is trailed by the determined LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger who has been following him for months after a murder in Texas.

 

Hailee Steinfeld

The REVIEW: Ethan and Joel Coen are not known for their mainstream marketability with credits that include cult classic The Big Lebowski, the honored No Country for Old Men, and last years Jewish semi-autobiographical dark comedy (with an ending worth the price of a rental fee) A Solitary Man. With this feature, the Coens deliver a very straight forward western that trapezes through laughs and a few tears, and is probably their most accesible film in years.

As an adaption and as a remake, True Grit succeeds in making a true transition from the original novel by Charles Portis. The opening narration was dull, but past that is a story worthy of attention–and it will keep it. Moments of gore are surprisingly tender. Characters that seem unsalvageable salvage the mission. Friendships are forged, broken, and lost in the passage of time.

Leading True Grit is the young Hailee Steinfeld who holds her own against film-biz veterans Bridges, Damon, and Brolin. Her character, in the hands of any other preteen, would have come off as precocious rather than mature, annoying rather than stubborn, and would have tripped over the film’s tastefully clunky dialogue that Stienfeld recites with the right amount of open-mouthed defiance. She’s a natural, and deserves her nomination in the Oscar race. The other actors fit nicely in their roles as well. Bridges even gets to do his mumble-mouth drunk thing as he portrays a grump with a heart of …bronze.

True Grit looks worn and lovely, and will last in such a manner. It is a new western film that will hold up against Time, and the Coen brothers will have a modern classic tucked in their portfolios.

Should You See It: Yes. Catch it before the Oscars this Sunday.

NOMINATED for:

Best Picture

Jeff Bridges – Best Actor

Hailee Steinfeld – Best Supporting Actress

Writing (Best Adapted Screenplay)

Best Art Direction

Cinematography

Costume Design

Directing

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing

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