It seems the Coen Brothers are back in the saddle again with the remake of True Grit. Sure, I like some of their films, but I was never much of a Coen fan. However, after this movie, that has all changed. I’ve been on a Jeff Bridges kick for a sometime now and couldn’t wait to see this movie. He’s one of those extremely talented silent Hollywood types. He’s a truly gifted actor, so I knew if Bridges was staring in it, it was bound to be good. I was impressed with everything this film had to offer. The dialog alone was enough to rope me in. Joel and Ethan Coen's beautifully witty dialogue, some of it lifted from Charles Portis' novel and some cooked up by the Coens' s themselves, provided a fresh and zesty fun ride from beginning to end.
Our story begins with a 14 year old headstrong little girl named Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld). She has come to town to retrieve the body of her recently deceased father, who was shot by the cowardly Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). During her stay, she ends up seeking a U.S. marshal to help her avenge her father’s untimely death. It’s there that she learns about the "meanest" and most "pitiless" of them all and swiftly tracks him down. When given a choice between hiring the best tracker in town, the meanest marshal in town or the best man, period, she settles for the mean one - Cogburn. "I am told you are a man with true grit," she says. Although she wears her hair in schoolgirl braids ("Congratulations, Cogburn. You've graduated from mercenary to wet nurse," Damon's bounty hunter character teases), Mattie proves to be a handy trail mate for Cogburn and eventually they become quite the pair.
Everyone gives superb performances. Bridges, who’s larger-than life, embodies Cogburn’s character to another level and stands high against the memory of John Wayne, and Matt Damon cleverly manages to convey the Taxes ranger’s combination of arrogance and courage, while Brolin (who’s barely in the film), does wonders as the dim-witted, murderous villain. But the one who impressed me the most was Hailee Steinfeld. It's impossible not to fall in love with Steinfeld's Mattie. She’s quick on her feet, smart and undeniably delightful. By no means is she out for blood, it’s justice she seeks. But it's clear that if blood is shed, she will not shy away from it.
With breathtaking scenic shots, crackerjack wordplay and top-notch performances all around, the Coen brothers once again find themselves at the top of their game. This old Western remake is a wonderful tribute to the John Wayne classic. The Duke would be proud. The Coens should be, too.RATING: B