It is forty years since John Wayne rode “True Grit” all the way to an Oscar and who’s to say Jeff Bridge’s won’t do the same with this beautifully crafted re-make by Joel & Ethan Coen. If you were brought up on Westerns and that whole tough-guy-wreaks-vengeance-on-those-who-have-done-him-wrong thing, you’re in for an indulgent couple of hours. But the film has wider appeal than a trip down memory lane; my 15 year old fellow-reviewer was equally rivetted.
The film closely follows Portis’ 1968 novel with its gentle wit and black humour set against a compelling story which unfolds around three strong, central characters, played to perfection by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and a debut film role for Hailee Steinfeld.
The story starts with 14 year old Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) collecting her late father’s body after he has been ruthlessly gunned down by swindling fellow worker, Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin). Mattie is feisty, tough & determined, with bargaining skills more suited to a souk than a school room. She sets herself on a path to avenge her father’s death and on hearing he’s a man of ‘true grit’, she hires seasoned, deputy United States Marshal, Rooster (Jeff Bridges) to accompany her to pursue Cheney and bring him to justice.
Bridges just gets better and better. He revels in this role as a whiskey-soaked law man and a courtroom showman, with little regard for preserving the lives of his prisoners. They set off on the trail, crossing paths with a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Damon), also seeking Cheney, and join forces – the Marshall knowing the country and LaBoeuf knowing the man. The men have plans of their own that do not involve the orders of a young girl but they don’t reckon on Mattie’s strength of will; she’s not an easy girl to shake off.
The cinematography is stunning and characters and sub-plots along the way add to the rich tapestry. I guess you’d have to enjoy the genre but if this is your kind of movie, True Grit most definitely is a must see.
book now at