To the younger generation the film True Grit may seem like a new take on the Western genre but in fact the Coen brothers’ (Fargo, The Big Lebowski) latest film is a updated and impressively produced adaptation of the novel and John Wayne film of the same name.
Unlike most other Western films, the protagonist is a 14-year old girl named Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) who sets out to avenge her father’s death. While in town in Arkansas wrapping her father’s affairs in which she heckles with businessmen and carries out seemingly masculine tasks for the time of the film she also looks to find the perfect U.S. Marshal that will find her father’s killer, a ruthless man named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) who killed him and stole his horse and possessions. She is given a few names of marshals that could take up the case and ultimately decides that she is going with an equally ruthless, one-eyed marshal named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) whose sight problem is not his only character flaw.
Also in town is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is searching for Chaney for committing a crime in that state. After twisting Cogburn’s arm and paying him a $50 fee, the US Marshal takes on the case, reluctantly with Ranger LaBoeuf and Mattie in tow. The two men brush off the girl until she ultimately proves herself to them and they bond.
The film’s trailer makes it out to be a shoot ‘em up kind of film but in reality it is more of a novel come to life than a stereotypical guns drawn Western. The film itself is drawn out and moviegoers who are looking for constant moments of excitement might get bored rather quickly but if they stick with the story, they’ll be rewarded.
The ending of the film is also a bit of an emotional surprise. This is a warning to the members of Macho nation, you will cry and it’s okay to do so. The final scenes don’t exactly depict the cowboys going off into the sunset in a stereotypical,
The acting in the film is solid, although at some points, Hailee Steinfeld’s performance is exaggerated and it seems like she is acting more in a middle school play than a blockbuster film. Those moments, however, are few and far between and it appears that Steinfeld will be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood in the coming years.
Matt Damon, who has done wonders in films such as The Departed and The Bourne Supremacy, is hardly present in his role as Ranger LaBoeuf. Matt Damon, undoubtedly, is the arrogant, pompous Ranger that his counterpart despsises.
Jeff Bridges, who also worked with the Coen Brothers in the 1998 film, The Big Lebowski, is back with the sibling team for a reason. What’s that reason, you ask? He’s fantastic as Rooster Cogburn and highlights his flaws to a “T”. Cogburn is an alcoholic and Bridges certainly puts on a show with his antics. Everything from shooting at the glass bottles in the air to the stupor is believable. Anyone can be drunk but it takes a special type of acting to play drunk and Bridges nails it.
While the film has been out since before Christmas, local theaters such as Clearview’s Anthony Wayne and the UA King of Prussia still have showtimes available and if you do ultimately miss it in theatres, add it to your Netflix or rent it at Blockbuster. It’s worth every moment even if right away it does not seem it.