True Grit

Posted: February 13, 2011 by curlyshirley in Film
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In a nutshell: A leathery old west tale, happily lacking trademark Coen quirks

Popcorn rating: 4/5

It’s hard to believe the same Minnesota siblings, the Coen Brothers, who made the brilliantly unpredictable No Country for Old Man and the dialogue rich Fargo, also made the dross that was Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. But they did, and they’re back with enjoyable western True Grit – an adaptation thankfully much closer to the original Charles Portis novel than the previous John Wayne flick of the same name.

The premise of the tale is a manhunt, with plucky teen Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfield), hard drinking US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and showy Texas Ranger Le Boeuf (Matt Damon) forming an unlikely trio on the trail of murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). And that’s it really.

To say that True Grit is a bit slow (and it is) would be doing the movie a disservice. For viewers used to up-close, bloody punch-ups and breathless horse chases, True Grit offers up a few scenes that will set the pulse racing, preferring instead to be a study in western realism than action eye candy.

It is an approach which works well. What it lacks in narrative twists, True Grit delivers in sepia soaked beauty, Roger Deakins’ cinematography offering an old west which is both stark, cold and yet stunning.

It is a world which fits perfectly with its characters. A14-year-old with vengeance on her mind, Mattie does not suffer fools gladly and, while she could easily slip into the realms of annoying – or even cutesy – she never does.  A poised and tough young lady, any qualms that her elders wouldn’t take this slip of a girl seriously are soon dismissed with Steinfield delivering a pitch perfect portrayal from beginning to end. It is  performance which holds its own against gravel voiced Jeff Bridge’s stellar performance as Cogburn. A role he clearly enjoyed playing.

In support, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper add to the on-screen quality, giving their characters individuality and flaws, but the stand out scene is Mattie’s unflustered bargaining with sneaky horse trader Stonehill (Dakin Matthews).

Reviewer: Curleyshirles


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