True Grit, directed by none other than the all inspiring Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, is a gritty, dark humoured and immensely gripping remake of the 1969 classic western starring John Wayne. When an honest man gets gunned down for no good reason, the culprit thought he had escaped with his life. Little did he know that the blood thirsty and revenge driven intensions of a little girl may come to prove him wrong. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires herself the meanest, toughest and positively oddest U.S Marshall she could find, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), and sets out on the road to find her father’s murderer. With the company of the Marshall and the intermittent company of a certain Texan Ranger who goes by the name LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), this odd band must track down a cowardly murderer and bring him to justice, whatever their own interpretations of that word may be. But will things turn out to be quite so straight forward?
I going to say straight away, I loved this film. Before finally getting around to seeing this remake I had heard some mixed reviews and was honestly considering whether or not it was, in fact, worth going to see. Then I took a moment and remembered who the directors were, the Coen brothers! That settled it, I had to see it, and I can honestly say it was the right choice. The wonderful Coen brothers have never failed me and I should not have doubted them this time. Everything about this film pulled me in from the superb characters, the remarkable landscape and even the simple yet enrapturing plot line had me hooked.
As I mentioned before, the characters were exceptional, due in large part to the extremely talented and expertly selected cast. I have been a fan of Jeff Bridges ever since I saw The Big Lebowski and his character The Dude had me wanting to just walk around in my shades all day and generally do nothing too taxing. He was absolutely brilliant as Rooster Cogburn, the tough U.S Marshall with a slight drinking problem. Even Matt Damon, who can sometimes be a little off for me in some of his emotionless performances, impressed me. His character played right into Matt Damon’s strengths, a polite, and slightly emotionless and pride-full Texan Ranger who does not care much for personal matters; he would rather see a job done right and by the book.
The star of the show, however, must go to Hailee Steinfeld who plays Mattie Ross, the young girl who is on a revenge mission to avenge her father’s murder and bring the culprit to justice. I had never seen this actress until this film and loved her style. She was such a huge on-screen presence that she would often take some of the attention away from Jeff, which is hard to do. She was truly magnificent in my opinion, the way she made her role her own, the way she seemed to effortlessly adapt and fit in to that era in time and adopt that type of language was truly brilliant. I am relatively certain she will be on the big screen for many years to come and look forward to seeing what she can produce.
The fact that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed this film was a huge seller for me, as I hope it was for a lot of people. I mean these two guys have brought us some truly brilliant films such as The Big Lebowski, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Ladykillers, No Country for Old Men and a personal favourite of mine, Burn After Reading. There is no end to these guys’ talent, and I hope it stays that way. With their unique take on life and dark humour with the ability to unnerve and shock even the sturdiest of viewers with their unpredictable and outrageous plot twists, I can only pray that these guys continue to produce the top quality films I have come to expect from them.
So True Grit is an exception to the rule of ‘remakes are bad’. This film was far from that, it was excellent, a true western with a modern day twist made possible by the wonderfully talented writers/directors and of course the fantastic cast and crew. So if you haven’t seen this yet, what’s wrong with you? Get on it!
Written by Oliver Willis